Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pickled Pigskin

My wife and I watched the game last Sunday. It is a clear sign of how much living in Green Bay affected us that we both watched the game. As I have said before, I cannot be legitimately classified as a sports fan – never mind a football fan. And I must say that one of the things that my wife found attractive about me (besides my devastating good looks, my scintillating intellect, and irresistible charm) is that I do not typically spend hours watching various professional and collegiate sporting events on TV. Needless to say, she seldom spends more than a few seconds a month even thinking much about sports herself.
So when Sunday night found us tuned in and attentive to the Green Bay game, it really was quite an unusual event. Even more so since I had just finished watching three hours of football as the Patriots managed to put down the upstart Chargers. In fact, at one point, my girls started grousing about watching the game. “Dad?” said the little one, “can we watch something else?” After I said no, the complaining continued and began to take on a bit of a whine. At this point I simply pulled rank. It sounded something like this. “I almost never watch sports. I have not watched a single game this year. If, on this day, I wish to watch a football game, then I am allowed to do so.” I resisted the temptation to add, “Your Father the Emperor has spoken. Now be silent.” But it was clearly implied in my tone.
I did actually miss the first part of the GB game, as we stopped watching to eat dinner, and then put the kids to bed. We picked up sometime late in the second quarter. I kept waiting for the Packers to drive downfield and score so as to put the game to bed, but it just seemed that the were unable to put together a sustained drive. Even to my untrained eye they seemed to lack the power to make the plays. As the game progressed and it stayed close, my wife and I were actually getting really excited. It’s not too unusual for me to talk to the TV. My wife usually refrains from addressing electronic devices directly. In this case, we were both calling out, encouraging Brett to move, egging on the defense to blitz, moaning when the pass was incomplete or the runner stopped short of the first down. At one point, I turned to my wife and observed that we sounded like we are from Green Bay. And of course, for those few minutes, we actually were from Green Bay once again. It felt good.
Of course, that did not last. It was a real let down, a bit of a shock really. How could this happen. No, the Pack is supposed to WIN. Favre is supposed to pull something out of the hat. But no, it was not to be. Both of us felt sad and sorry for the outcome.

You may recall from post The Joy of the Pack, my Jedi powers were at work. As the Pack went down, I knew exactly what was going on in GB. The weeping. The gnashing of teeth. And those are not figures of speech. I know many football fans. I know some who are very…enthusiastic. In the small city of Green Bay, tucked into the northeast corner of Wisconsin, it is a qualitatively different experience. It is as if the town itself breathes in and out to the rhythm of the gridiron. It is the universal topic of conversation, even supplanting the weather in priority. To live in Green Bay is to be culturally immersed in football in a way that I think no other place offers. I suspect it is a function of threethings: deeply rooted thought habits, a high level of saturation, and fierce group identification.
The Packers have been around since 1919. They were not among the very first franchises of the NFL when it was formed in 1921, but they are among the oldest still existing, along with the Chicago Bears. I remember once, while getting my hair cut in 1996, hearing a 90 year old man telling the tale of watching the Packer’s play against Marinette when he was 10 years old. This kind of history as allowed the Packers to settle deep into the cultural consciousness of the town.
Then there is the size of Green Bay relative to…well…an NFL Franchise. GB is about the same size as Manchester NH. That is to say, it’s not that big. The city itself carries just under 100,000 people, with the surrounding environs accounting for another 100,000 or so. That allows the Packers to effect an inordinately strong cultural impact. Imagine two 5 gallon buckets filled with water. In one, you will drop a tablespoon of salt. In the other you will place a 20 lb salt lick. Allow both to dissolve. Let’s just say that the cultural water in Green Bay is much more savory with the taste of pigskin than that of…Boston.
As a result of the intensity of the brine and the long fermentation period, I think that the identification with the Packers by the people of Green Bay is much stronger than is typical. While every NFL city boasts its true believers, I suspect few of them draw their TB’s from such a broad cross section, and from such a deep well as the Packer’s do in Green Bay. The psyche of the city is bound up with the Packers to such a degree that if by some natural or man made disaster the Packers ceased to exist, I suspect that the entire city would melt away, like so much smoke in the wind in the span of a few years – perhaps sooner with global warming and all.
How else could I explain how Green Bay, somehow, someway actually got me to pay attention to football, at all? It must be something in the water. So my heart goes out to my friends in GB. Sincerely. That part of me that still lives there wept with you.
Of course, I was drinking granite laced NH water long before I moved to GB. So when the Patriots take the field, I will very much enjoy watching them grind the Giants down to size. Yes. I plan to watch the game. I’ll be watching the Patriots, but I can thank the Packers for that.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Agincourt on the Tundra

A friend recently opined to me that I should be glad that I can watch the Green Bay / Giants game from the comfort of my heated living room. She seems to think that merely because of a slight chill in the air, that one would rather watch it on a box than in full 3D reality of the stadium. Even I know that real football scoffs at the weather.
She has obviously, since moving from Wisconsin to Texas, had her senses dulled and softened by the increased warmth and sunshine of the Texas climate. Those of us who thrive on the North, who revel in the bracing chill, who welcome the frost for it's soul-cleansing harshness...we think differently. Let the weak and the infirm stay at home with their blankets and their hot tea. Football is, after all, a game of suffering. Why should the fans not suffer in their own way, just as the players do theirs. Given the opportunity, I would gladly trade my heated living room for the cold primitive aluminum benches of Lambeau. Why? I think the Bard did say it best...

He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the Championship feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is the Big Game.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'This frostbite I had at Lambeau Field.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats they did that day.
Then shall our names, Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Brett Favre, Jennings and Driver,
Pickett and Barnett, Poppinga and Woodson -
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And a Superbowl shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that did freeze his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlefolk in Texas now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That froze with us upon that Champion’s day.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Joy of the Pack

Living for seven years in Wisconsin most definitely left it’s mark on me. For instance, I have a keen and strong sense of the emotional climate in Green Bay right now. It mirrors the climate when I first arrived in Green Bay in late 1996, just as the Packers were finishing their season and starting their playoff march to the Superbowl. Hoo boy…those were heady times indeed. Now with back to back playoff game AT Lambeau…I can smell it like it was yesterday. It’s rather like having high tension power lines that go right over your house. The entire city is just crackling, buzzing, spitting sparks and occasionally a raw flow of electrons will arc out from Lambeau to various locations around the city. Remember those times when Scotty (or was it Spock) would have to climb up the access tubes to manage the balance of matter/antimatter around the dilithium crystals? Yeah, walking down Main Street, or crossing over the Walnut Street bridge, you have this sense of power flowing all around you, almost raging out of control. You want to scream at Captain Kirk that it’s going to blow at any minute, that you she can’t handle any more power, but your Razr isn’t really a Federation Starfleet Communicator, and your Honda really isn’t the Shuttle Galileo.
Then there was the time when Obi Wan felt woozy when Alderan was destroyed by the Imperial Death Star. The psychic blow of millions of people dying in an instant I’m sure is similar to the spiritual energy of Green Bay when experiencing a football victory (or defeat). Even the anticipation of the event causes instability and excessive fluctuation in the numinal energy field. Maybe I really am a Jedi, and that’s why I’ve had a slight headache all day. And I thought it was because I didn’t have any coffee for the first time in a month.
Anyhow, I love Green Bay. I miss being there. As much fun as it is to be a New England sports fan right now, there is nothing – NOTHING – like being in GB while the Pack is heading the the Big Show. How do I know this? Because I am NOT a sports fan, but I still loved being there because it was such a total immersion experience. It’s so cool to be in the middle of something where everyone – EVERYONE – is totally caught up in the one big thing. The fact that that thing is football was really neither here nor there to me. It was more about the energy, the total immersion and the sheer giddy joy of it all.
I remember my friends in GB at this time, and my best wishes go out to you. Of course, when the Pack meets the Pats…the good news is that either way, my favorite team will win.

NH Primary Last Thoughts (for now)

I know the NH Primary election is now ancient history. Even so, I want to comment a bit on my experience.

First, there was NO complaining this year about the lack of choice among the candidates. It seemed clear to me that there was something for everybody to choose from. Of course, not all of it ends up landing on one candidate. I suspect most republican voters would prefer, if they could, to take a little of John McCain’s heart, Huckabee’s mouth, Fred thompson’s voicebox (love that man’s voice), Romney’s head (including the hair), and various body parts to make a whole candidate. Stitch on various parts from Ron Paul and other lesser candidates. Of course the choice of body parts may vary voter to voter. Democrats would select similarly from their own vivisectional inventory. In spite of this tendency to want what we can’t really have, there was a lot to choose from.

Second, for all the bluster about what lousy idea it is to have NH set the tone for the primary elections, it didn’t seem to make much difference. It seems that Super Duper Tuesday is going to have the main word after all. The candidates are basically trading blows from state to state. I can’t wait to see what the convention is going to look like. I suspect there is going to be a lot of back room dealing. Not that that’s a bad thing necessarily.

Third, I noticed how many of the candidates can actually talk. I mean really talk. I must say that after 8 years of listening to the stammering and groping of GWB, a bit of skilled oratory is refreshing. Really. As a man who makes his living from words, and from speaking in particular, I really do admire someone who can form a coherent thought of his own, shaping it with eloquence and delivering it with not only conviction, but a certain degree of flair. I won’t vote for Obama, but I love to listen to the man talk. Romney is reasonably competent. Huckabee is surprisingly good. I have not seen him addressing large crowds, but I suspect that he can hold his own with Obama, although stylistically quite different. Even ex tempore Huckabee’s language is clear, concise and flowing. I find Hillary to be a competent speaker in a rather formal bureaucratic way – I’m not saying she isn’t genuine. She just comes across more like the disciplined, somewhat uptight, class valedictorian rather than the guy who MC’s the talent show. She expresses herself clearly, but without that indefinable vibe that inspires. My biggest surprise is McCain. He was my second choice for my vote, but I was surprised to see him using note cards, and stuttering a bit on his remarks. I expected a few less rough edges. Even so, what showed through is his lion’s heart. I like that.

Charisma is certainly not sufficient grounds for a vote in and of itself. Yet, without charisma, competence is impotent. The President does not operate in a vacuum. He must get things done with, through and by others. If he can’t get others to follow his lead, then he cannot lead. Of course, charisma without competence is just so much wind in the branches. It may make the leaves flutter, but the tree is staying right where it is.

I was surpised the Hillary took the Democratic ballot. That morning, I had opportunity to drive across the state on business. My route took me through several towns and cities, ranging from 20,000 to about 4000 in population. Obama had supporters waving signs at most major in town cross roads. Even in Alton and Meredith...not known as huge urban centers. No one else had that kind of physical presence. I figured then that Obama was going to take it. Just shows I'm not much of a political analyst. Then again, maybe it shows that I'm just as good as those clowns on TV.

I always cast my vote with a bit of a prayer along the lines of “I hope I’m doing the right thing.” I am only too aware of how much I don’t know to vote with any real confidence. Nevertheless, as with most of life, I’ve seldom let my ignorance get in the way of shooting my mouth off.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Week Later

They've gone. All of them. Gone. It's quiet now. If you listen, you can almost hear the snow falling.

I voted for Huckabee.

But what the heck do I know.

Auto Advice for Parents

A friend of mine recently sent out this email request for help. My reply is published below. I thought it displayed a certain mature wisdom one might expect from and experience parent like myself, and felt it might be worth sharing with the world.

OK--so as we are getting closer to adopting two kids, my car is totally dying. I need to replace it, but there's really no reason to get anything other than a good car for at least two kids… So, considering we know next to nothing about what to consider, I thought I'd ask some of my favorite parents of multiple children what they think about vehicles--What should we consider? Do you have a specific vehicle/type you recommend? Or recommend to stay away from? I'd love to learn from other's experience and not wish we'd bought something different in six months! Thanks for any input--as much or as little as you like!

Are you sure you want my advice? goes.

First, you want something that goes really really fast. I don't mean just on the straight highway, I'm talking acceleration off the dime. You want something with some serious low end torque so that you can jump ahead of that bozo in the other lane that thinks his kids deserve to get to chuckie cheese's ahead of your kids. You are near the coast, so something that stays really tight to the road in hard cornering situations is not as critical as it might be if you were in the mountains, but you will still want to consider that so that you won't slide out when making that last second high speed maneuver into that parking spot that's close to the door of the grocery store.

Of course, you want something with power. Raw, unadulterated, petrol power. You'll be hauling about half of Sam's Club home every couple of weeks. So you'll need towing capacity under the hood and a big Reese hitch sticking out the back for that twelve foot trailer. Not to mention that Airstream you'll be using for your trips to Wisconsin. Minimum of 8 cylinders I think -- 10 is better. And seating capacity for at least 8 so your tykes can bring along their friends.

And you'll want something that's sexy too. If you are driving it, kids or no kids, you want to feel like all the fine and handsome men are attracted to you in that car. Why? Purely as a morale booster. Few things can match the feeling you get when you lock eyes with some good looking eligible and obviously wealthy young fellow, and then leave him in the dust a few seconds later. It not only feels good, but it also feels righteous. But then, you already know about that from driving Flip (author's note: Flip was/is their convertible Saab zoomy thing -- very powerful. very sexy) around, don't you?

BTW - that's also why you want tinted windows in the back, so no one sees the kids. Don't wanna jinx your mojo.

If it's for hubby, then no question, he needs a truck. A big truck. I mean a big ass diesel duallie with the most enormous extended cab possible. You are, after all, in North Carolina, where a MAN needs a truck, to heck with the kids. They can go in the back as long as they don't puke up on the bedliner. Unless of course, you were living in Charlotte...then that might allow for exceptions on the truck thing.

That's just a few of my thoughts. Hope they help. If not, you might try the links below for better advice. ;-)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Blink '08

So here I am. All eyes of the nation are on me. I am a citizen of New Hampshire, with the first in the nation primary election. Not only am I a citizen, I am a registered voter. Beyond that, I am a registered independent, one of those bothersome Yankees who will not declare allegiance to one party or another, but reserve the right to vote any time I want for whomever I damn well please. This makes me a hot political commodity for the next few days. Millions on millions seek my opinion, attempt to discern my judgment, desire to plumb the depths (or shallows) of my political views. Therefore, I am become the Accidental Pundit.
Of course, I am not alone here. There are about a million or so other residents of the state, about 700,000 registered voters, of which some 40% are independents like me. I have many friends who have been complaining about receiving multiple phone calls each day for polling or campaign calls from candidates. I personally haven’t received any political phone calls. Therefore, I have to say that while no one is specifically seeking information on my individual vote, I am a cell in a larger organism. If the cell that is me should twitch one way, along with enough of my neighbors, the political muscle that is NH will contract and turn the national corpus just so. The nation may not stay moving in that direction, but once moving, it may be hard to change. It will depend on how the rest of the states twitch.
I am not a real pundit. I really don’t have the chops to sort through the policy papers of all the candidates. If I did, I’m not sure I would have a deep enough understanding of the national and international issues involved to make an adequate logical choice. So, I blink.
This means my decision is going to be made based on rapid cognition. You can call it gut feeling or intuition if you wish. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, sets out the thesis that we make most of our decision really in about two seconds, with a pretty thin slice of the available data, that we then subconsciously extrapolate. The book is largely “about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good.”
Basically this means that I have been watching, listening to, and reading about the candidates. I have been developing a sort of gut reaction to each. Frankly, I like several of them a lot, and think I would be reasonably content if they won. But I have to pick one. So…I blink.
I’m still blinking. I have definite leanings, but won’t know for sure until I fill in the little circle all nice and black. Me and a bunch of others. Then the nation will know what we thought, how we blinked and which direction we twitched. My moment of punditry. Then the chattering masses move on to someplace else and leave us in peace. And God help us all.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

On the Mortification of the Flesh


A Short Essay and Memoir on the Infliction of Moderate Physical Suffering Ostensibly for the Improvement of the Health and Strength of the Body
This is gonna hurt...ahhhh, so what? It's time to go
Pray not for the task to be easier. Rather train to be strong enough for the task.

At the beginning of last year, I determined to achieve a number of goals, affecting various areas of my life. I bailed on a few, came close to hitting some others, and achieved a few quite neatly. As the year began to draw toward a close, I reviewed my list and found a few that were not complete, but still within my grasp. These were physical goals, involving feats of strength and endurance. The purpose of setting these goals was to challenge myself to train my body to a higher level of conditioning.
So, you may ask, how did I do?
Strangely enough, I did complete the goals I set (mostly), but as for the higher level of conditioning, I can’t claim that I made it. My actual training has been inconsistent throughout the year. There were times when I trained hard for weeks, or even months, and saw some good gains. There were also stretches where I was pulled away by other concerns for long periods of time. As I came into October, however, I realized it was crunch time. Do it or don’t do it. I determined to do it regardless.
So here’s what I determined to do.
The first of these two goals was to complete 500 consecutive Kettlebell swings. A kettlebell is a solid iron ball with an integrated loop handle. It is a traditional training tool in Russia, and has a reputation for being the domain of a strange type of weird hardass athletes (if the shoe fits). The standard kettlebell is about 36 lbs. That may not seem like much, but it’s skewed center of gravity, and the dynamic movements made possible by the handle give it the ability to work the body in ways that other exercise tools do not.
The Swing is the fundamental kettlebell movement. The idea is to hold the KB with both hands, bending the knees into a slight squat. Then snapping the hips forward, you raise the kettlebell up to head height, letting it fall back down again as you drop back into the squat position. This compound movement is deceptively simple, but you will find that it works the entire “posterior chain” of muscle groups very effectively. Most of the muscles we use to actually do real work are along the back side of our bodies -- the calves, hamstrings, glutes, the girdle of the lumbar and abdomen, the latissimus dorsi, trapezoids and deltoids. The Swing works these muscles marvelously, not in isolation, but in harmony, the way you will actually use them in all manner of everyday and strenuous activities.
I usually find that at 50 I’m starting to sweat. 100 is a brisk refresher. At 200 I’m getting blown. I’ve only ever done 300 once or twice. 500 is a real stretch. It’s rather like the question on the test that cannot be fudged. You either know it, or you don’t. Cramming right before the test does not help. In the same way, trying to cram training into my muscles in the last 2 weeks was not going to help. I simply had to suck it up, grit my teeth, start throwing iron and hope for the best.
The short version is that by modifying my pace somewhat, I was able to make it to 410 before stopping. I took about a 10 second rest and cranked out another 50. I took another 10 second rest and finished the set with 501 total.
I discovered something that I have experienced before, but tend to forget in between times. I can push my body further than I think, if I simply come to terms with the pain. I’m not talking about the pain of injury, although I’m sure this is true as well. I’m talking more about the pain of effort. I may well have been capable physically of making those last hundred swings without stopping, but I was having trouble at that point pushing aside the pain, and was beginning to fear that I would lose my grip. Compounding the problem was that my back deck was not fully cleared of recent snow and ice and I found my left foot slipping in a most distracting way. One does not want to slip sideways while tossing 35 pounds of cold steel in the air – at least not without intending to and having a plan. I also found that afterwards, although my shoulders, back and legs were sore, some of the worst of the soreness was in my forearms and wrists. If the chain is only as strong as the weakest link, then it may be a good idea for my to begin training my grip.
So, it was uncomfortable, but it was done. I completed this on Monday morning the day before Christmas. As usual I found the real muscular soreness setting in on Thursday, two days after the event. This caused me a little concern, as I had set aside Saturday for event two in my personal party of pain. The next challenge was to run 14 miles in 2 ½ hours.
14 miles is a half marathon. In 2000 I ran the 1st Green Bay Marathon, 26.2 miles in 4 hours and 46 minutes. I had intended to run it in 4:30, but the combination of eating the too much for breakfast, and 85 degree heat caused me to have to slow down at a few spots. I have been running on and off since, but never that kind of distance. I wanted to increase my distance training, but not to the level of commitment required for a full marathon. I figured a half marathon would be about right.
Again, the fact that I really didn’t train for it made the endeavor a dubious one. I obviously failed to achieve the underlying purpose of my goal which was to insure that I would train consistently. No matter. I figured I could still run it, and if I came up short, so be it. I had actually planned to run an actual race, but the only two half marathons I had set my sights on came and went, superseded by more urgent matters. I decided to forego the official race, and simply plan out my own route. After all, the purpose of running had nothing to do with qualifying for another race, or impressing anyone. It was simply about doing it. My original plan then was to run home from church one Sunday. It’s about 18 miles from my church to my house. I planned to change into my running togs after services and hit the road. I figured if I stopped near the old Pine Self Storage center, that was about 14 miles. I could then either call for a pickup, or if I was feeling good, finish the run all the way home. Well, events and weather (blizzards) intervened, and pretty soon it was do or die. So, on the last Saturday of the year, I got in the car and drove around the back roads of my home town and mapped out a nice 13.7 mile loop. I went back around to drop off a couple bottles of sports drink at 5 mile intervals and bought a couple of snickers bars to fortify me. Then I finished getting dressed, had another big cup of coffee (my preferred sports drink) and hit the road.
It was messy. The sky had just dropped a 8 inches of new snow the night before. The roads were slushy and wet. There is one section of the route that is pretty much a 4 mile climb. It seemed to me like a 1000 foot climb, but the topo map shows that it’s about a 500 foot increase in elevation. I noticed a definite drop in temperature about the half way point, as I was running along the ridgeline, and a cold front was just coming in shredding the clouds to reveal a little blue sky and a lowering winter sun. By the time I reached the last 2 miles, I was pretty beat, and the rest was mostly just hobbling along. I finished in 2:48, about 18 minutes behind my intended pace. Nevertheless, what with having never run the route before, and the rough weather, I’m reasonably happy with the result.
On finishing, I partook liberally of Tylenol and vitamin C in a effort to mitigate the pain and damage from those nasty free radicals. I think this may have actually been very helpful, as I had very little soreness in the following days.
Again, I found that I was able to push much farther than I thought I could. My weakness this time was my legs. My heart and lungs were relatively good throughout, but my legs were definitely struggling toward the end of the run.
A few days later, I’m feeling pretty good. No soreness to speak of. I haven’t set my new goals for this year. I’ll be posting later on my goals for the year in general. It was still worth it, just knowing that this 44 year old body can still be called upon to do the work necessary.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Snow Thoughts

Ah, to be six years old again. I have not seen snow like this since 1970. I remember the storm called the Blizzard of ’68. The snowbanks created by the plows were three times as tall as me. Climbing them was like attacking the Matterhorn. Only, intrepid alpinist that I am, I sought the purer truer experience and eschewed the protection of ropes and pitons. I scaled the heights carving steps with my own hands and feet. To stand at the summit of those mighty mountains of compiled frost was to stand at the top of the world, breathing the rarified air of giants and of only the noblest of high soaring birds.
And so, after some 4-5 feet of snowfall over the past month, and almost 2 feet in the past week, we are approaching a proper amount of whiteage again. The snowbanks are up to the windows of my house. My 6 year old stands on the snowbank next to the road and looks down into the windows of passing SUVs. Both of the children dig tunnels and caves into their own little white mountains - thinsulate garbed dwarves carving their halls of treasure.
The snowfall out front is well up my thighs in depth. I did a favor for the oil man today and dug him a little path to my oil nozzle so he could deliver our heating fuel more easily. Striding through 2.5 feet of snow, dragging an enormous hose and nozzle is hard work. I'm sure he's used to it, but I figure everyone could use a little help now and again.
Ezra, the guy who plows my drive comes by this morning as I’m clearing off the cars. He asks me if I’ve had enough. “More to the point”, I ask him, “Have YOU had enough. When it starts snowing I mostly just hole up inside and watch it come down. You’re the one who has to work when it snows.”
I’m itching to get out skiing. It is really beautiful snow. Deep fine powder, more like western snow I think. Not having ever skied in the west, I can't speak with any authority on that subject. Not sure when I’ll be able to ski, but so far it surely is a winter made for it.
Haven’t really broken out the snowshoes for a couple years. It just feels silly trying to walk on 6 inches of snow wearing snowshoes. It’s just too much trouble. But now with over 2 feet on the ground so far, it is definitely snowshoe time. I have an older pair of shoes made with an honest to goodness ash wood frame. The webbing is neoprene, which is much superior to the old rawhide as it does not stretch when wet or require varnishing every year to maintain it’s waterproof quality. I’ve purchased new easier to use bindings so I won’t have to worry about the buckles icing up like I used to. They are heavy in comparison and much clumsier than the newfangled aluminum jobbies, but they bridge the chasm between the true old timey shoes and the new mountaineering hyper gliders.
There are few things more sublime than shuffling through the deep woods while the snow is falling thick and fast. The snow has a clean smell to it, and muffles everything except the wind and the creaking of the trees. It is a magical time. Here’s to more of that.