Saturday, December 27, 2008

walking on treetops

there are certain things you know when you're a kid, that you no longer know when you're a middle-aged adult.
for instance, how to get up from the snow angel you've just made without destroying the beautiful angel you've just made.
this afternoon, lying on the snow after making my snow angel, I realized that I no longer knew how to get up. so I lay there, the snow starting to penetrate my many protective layers, laughing at myself. laughing at how I'd managed to become so old, laughing at my ability to forget such a crucial thing.
the situation was complicated by the fact that I was wearing snowshoes. they added a unique design to the bottom of my angel's gown, and now they were adding to my consternation. how does one get up from a snow angel without ruining it? and how does one get up at all, with snowshoes bound to their boots?
when I finally stopped laughing and had had enough of the cold, I rolled one way and then the other, hoping to gain enough momentum to roll myself out of my beautiful creation.
no go.
I leaned to my right, tentatively pushing a knee into the snow to see how far it would sink if I put my body weight on it. it held, hardly denting into the slope at all, so I pushed myself onto that knee while turning and lifting my feet as high off the ground as I could, rolling off to the side. where I then stood, and looked at my beautiful angel. preserved pretty well, I thought, considering the situation.
which becomes even more humorous when you know the entire situation: my snow angel is (and soon will be "was," given that I believe it's snowing there right now) high on a hillside far above and east of little dell reservoir, where my tracks were the only human ones at all.

bill gave me snowshoes for Christmas: this is my first pair, and I am thrilled! I took them out for a test spin today, and of course I headed to the spot I love to ride. I parked by the gate at the far end of the reservoir, and headed onto the snow packed road. there were cross-country skiers and another showshoer, and --- to my dismay --- a few snowmobiles. (I'd never even considered the fact that snowmobiles might be allowed on the road now that the gate is closed: I always think of it as a "no motorized vehicles" season. alas. )
this was only my second time snowshoeing, ever, so I started out just walking along the road, not having a specific destination in mind. after 20 yards or so, some snowmobile tracks headed up the slope on the left side of the road. I thought I'd give that a try, and walked along those tracks for another 20 yards, when I saw some deer tracks taking off to the west. I decided to follow those for a while, and next thing I knew I was heading up the hill. and up. and up.
I started chuckling to myself about the same time the sweat began dripping off my forehead and into my eyes: what is it about me and hills? I can't not climb them!
I climbed and climbed, occasionally sinking into snow drifts and at times trekking along windswept spots of only a couple inches of snow blanketing the crushed grasses. there were wide open spaces of pristine snow, smooth and perfect. and then there were acres and acres of hillside covered with what looked to be smallish, dark brown-gray, sparse bushes. which, as I approached them, turned into the tops of scrub oak. I walked between the spindly branches sticking out of the snow, giggling to myself as I pictured their trunks and roots so very far below. I followed the deer tracks until they leapt over a ridge I wanted to climb up, then was on my own the rest of the way.
the only thing that saved me from my own determination was my late start and the slowly approaching dusk: I did not attempt the highest peak, telling myself I had to save something for next time.
and also, for next time: I plan to check in with a child beforehand, to be sure I know exactly how to remove my body from my snow angel after her creation is complete.

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