As it type this, the North Shore is preparing for round four (five? I’ve lost count) of Snowpocalypse. We’re on track to get anywhere from six to 20 inches of snow over the next few days.
It’s just the latest “weather event” (as the chattering TV news announcers describe it) in what has become an unusually wintry winter.
The Sunday overnight a few weeks ago was the coldest night in years in these parts — the thermometer didn’t rise past minus-6 degrees. We’re already on track for one of the snowiest winters in a long time — we’ve had about five feet so far this year, twice what we’d see in a “normal” year. The snow banks along my driveway — which is cleared by shovel, not machine, thank you very much — are as tall as my son.
So why am I having so much fun?
One word: Snowshoes.
The week after Christmas I pooled a bunch of gift cards and bought my self a pair of MSR Denali Evo Ascent snowshoes. I’ve barely been inside since (except to eat, nap, watch bad TV, nap some more and maybe have a small snack).
A good pair of snowshoes changes everything, from your fitness level to your perception of winter. Trees and trails you hiked in summer look entirely different in when there snow is on the ground and there are no leaves on the trees. Get far enough away from homes and highways and the woods are soft and quiet in a way they aren’t during the other seasons. It soothes the soul.
We need to stop seeing the seasons as an affliction. In summer, we complain about the humidity, and TV weathermen trumpet the “heat index” as a measure of our abject suffering. In spring, we moan about the mud and listen to meteorologists tell us about the “pollen index” and whether we should stay inside to avoid sneezing and wheezing. In the fall, we see “foliage forecasts,” as if a specific shade of yellow or burnt orange should determine whether the woods are worthy of our gaze.
Winter is the worst, though. Every storm, every flake that falls is measured against some previous storm (usually the Blizzard of ‘78). A storm with four inches of snow can lead every local TV newscast, setting off a run on milk and bread and snowblowers and batteries. School gets called off in advance and people start calling into work. Citizens will be urged to stay inside. At some point the news anchor will invariably describe the storm, no matter how large or small, as “Mother Nature’s fury” and wonder how much more of her punishment we can take.
Here’s some news for you: Mother Nature isn’t punishing us. She can’t because she doesn’t exist. Weather doesn’t have a motive.
The upshot of all this drama (and that’s what the TV weather forecasts are selling, year-round, is drama) is that we sit inside on the couch, watching the tube and waiting for a better day, a better week, a better season before venturing outside and enjoying the here and now.
The here and now is all we really have. Best make use of it.
Now excuse me, I have to go shovel some #%$%@ snow.
Below: My old snowshoes, handed down from my grandfather. The leather bindings would always stretch out two minutes into a hike, but you have to respect the craftsmanship of the actual shoes. I’m tempted to find a pair of newfangled bindings to attach to them…