Urban snowshoeing is no easy thing. Dan bought me the snowshoes with his Christmas bonus years ago–cheap things from Gander Mountain. The rubber straps that bind them to your boots are now stiff with age, and they don’t want to slide through the little clamp that’s supposed to adjust them. Still, I managed to get the snowshoes on. I wanted to use them because I didn’t all last year; there wasn’t any snow in the months when I could get out for any length of time. And I don’t even remember if I got out the year before; my memory has lost hold of everything from that winter but Dan’s illness.
There are plenty of off-road paths in the neighborhood, and I set out early to use them before all the dog walkers and cross country skiers got out. First I had to make it down the sidewalk. Snowshoes aren’t really any use in less than six inches, so I’m relying on the unshoveled sidewalks of lazy neighbors. (They actually come in three varieties: plain lazy neighbors, who shovel out their cars but leave the walk buried; extra lazy neighbors who don’t even bother with the driveway, choosing to park in the street where they can just slop the snow off their windshield and go; and extra lazy neighbors with a side order or stupid, just like the previous except they can’t figure out alternate side parking and end up with their vehicle plowed under and a bunch of parking tickets.)
It was nice once I got on the path by the Starkweather Creek. Still dark, of course, but the white ground and the fat white sky bounce city lights all over the place, so it’s easy to see all around. Even the lake is white–surprising, given all the warm weather we’ve been having. I the snow-misted air, the lights of the State Capitol and the convention center looked all ghosty. I barely noticed the sneaky dawn.
The snowshoes kept falling off, so I ended up ditching them after about a half mile. I set them against a tree behind the old feed mill. It hardly mattered, since it’s lucky if we got six inches yesterday, and anyway I wear serious boots. The only place I missed the snowshoes was coming up the bank from the hidden lakeside path. The bank is steep and the snow was slippery, and my boots kept thinking I wanted to go sledding, so the metal grabbers on the bottoms of the snowshoes would have come in handy. But I made it up to the old Indian mounds by grabbing roots and scrawny little trees with my mittens. From there everything was easy again. I looped back around and picked up the snowshoes on my way home.
I suppose I’ll keep them. They’re sort of annoying; they make this clacky noise when they move, and even in the best of conditions (lots of snow, off-road paths, and extra-lazy neighbors) there are always streets to cross. But they’re good to have when the snow really piles up. Maybe if I work with the rubber straps I can get them loosened up.