Walking the Snowy Woods in February

We got what some might call a ‘pantload’ of snow in late January and it’s stuck around, which is awesome.

Snow makes walking in the woods a different kind of adventure. When it arrives, you set out, snowshoes strapped on. The woods are whitely mysterious and quiet. The new snow, so soft and smooth offers its first challenge: finding the trails. And then the second challenge is the workout — plowing through all that new snow and pounding down the path.

After many trips around, the walking gets easier. The trail edges are shadowed blue now and the the new snow’s smooth and tight-packed where we’ve walked. Deer love the work we’ve done, as evidenced by their hoof-prints chewing up the pristine trails. The dogs are happy not to have to clamber everywhere, too.

If it stays cold, you can eventually walk without snowshoes. When it gets icy, cleats help. Otherwise plain old boots are fine on the hard pack. And if it gets warm and melty, the snowshoes come out to pack things tight again, as they did today.

I often, right around now, start feeling relaxed, and maybe even a little cocky about walking this path. It’s so well-founded and secure. And I’ve walked it so many times. What could go wrong?

But here’s the thing, relearned today: If you step off the packed-down part of the path, you’re immediately into the deep snow. Your ankles may bend weirdly and your footing is suddenly tricky and unstable. So much for relaxed cockiness. If you thought you were making secure progress, well, it’s suddenly back to square one. A good reminder to look where you’re going and let hubris take a back seat to good old-fashioned humility.

So, concentrate and
Stick to your path, the straight and
Narrow brings you home.

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4 Responses to Walking the Snowy Woods in February

  1. Katie says:

    I agree with Alice – this is great! I love writing like this – so many lessons here. And your haiku is just icing on the cake πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alice Nye says:

    Beautifully written. One of the best! Written with the eye of a poet and it belongs in Best Essays for 2023! I loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

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