Monday, February 15, 2010

Spoiler alert: I don't walk on water

This may come as a shock to most of you, particularly my friends and family. I discovered today that I do not walk on water. At least, not successfully. It's not that I thought I could. I'd hoped merely that walking on ice would suffice to keep me dry.

Ice. Suffice. Poetry oozes from my every pore.

Is it possible to digress from a topic even before one has started? If so, clearly I have. The latest fun activity in my life is snowshoeing. My dad has been traipsing around the woods in a pair this winter and decided to bring me in on the fun. When we're up north, we let the dogs run and romp. They have more fun in a 30 minute outing than most humans have in a lifetime: play bow, answering bow; then gamboling through the banks of snow, throwing themselves into a full-bore, top-speed run through the woodsy obstacle course.

With my usual good intentions, I'd posited the notion that I could do the same down here in the flatlands of Illinois with my puppy-pie. But good intentions aren't usually enough to get me out in the woods alone. I prefer my adventures with company. I've never had a Illinois outdoor companion--or any outdoorsy friend, beyond my dad. For years, I harbored a fantasy that one day Carl would surprise me with a trip to Banff, where we would frolic together in the Canadian Rockies, skiing, snowshoeing, schussing . . . .

The audible snort that you heard was Carl, for whom this trip would be a nightmare of possibly epic proportions. Sorry, dear.

So my snowshoes were gathering dust in the basement for a few weeks when a friend happened to mention that she loved to snowshoe. One thing led to another and, yippie, we've been out three times in the past few weeks! It's much fun, tromping around in a semi-lost fashion. Snowshoeing off-path feels a bit like being a little kid out in the rain, stomping through puddles. Maybe I've spent too much of my life on the beaten path, because I'm really craving that off-road stuff right now.

Today, off-road meant wandering where our fancy drew us. In my case, this meant looking for trouble. Had a hankering to cross the river. All the forest preserves around us are set on the Des Plaines River. Wouldn't it be cool to cross it? On a log or something? Just the thought makes me feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder, fording the wild creek in the covered wagon with Jack the dog swimming along side.

Most adults are a bit more, um, cautious. They do not think things like this. Or, if they think them, they have the good sense not to announce it. And they certainly have the good sense to not try it.

And I am nothing if not a cautious adult. I did not suggest fording the Des Plaines on my snowshoes. It is, after all, running water that has not frozen. But there are lovely adorable little creeks running off the river that just cry for someone to skip across them on snowshoes and winding waterways littered with really nifty crossing timbers that carry invisible placards that whisper "You're not too old to scamper and have fun."

My friend, J, was wary. But I forged ahead, taking a step out onto a log. An icy log. In my snowshoes. J suggested caution. I took off my snowshoes. J suggested perhaps another route might be the wisest course of action. Surprisingly, I listened to J. We ranged the banks of the little creek, seeking a small frozen patch on which to cross.

Finally we settled on a likely place. Possibly 5 feet across, it looked quite solid, and clearly very shallow. Brave soul that I am, I went first. And promptly went through the ice, thus discovering that I cannot, alas, walk on water.

A menopausal pause followed, during which I flailed my hand around in the really cold water and mud, trying to pull my snowshoe out of the muck. I couldn't even see the damn thing. Where was it? Hell, I couldn't even get my shoe unsucked from the black ooze, let alone the missing snowshoe. Panic sets in. It will be so embarrassing to have to tell my dad that I lost the shoe in the mud.

Then I look to my right. I note a snowshoe. Looking to my left, I see that the other snowshoe is in my hand that is not flailing in the mucky water. A moment passes, similar to the moment that happens almost daily where I look for my reading glasses only to discover them on the top of my head: I had forgotten that I was holding the snowshoes, having taken them off during the aborted wet slippery log crossing.

Laughter ensues. Boot is successfully wrenched from the muck. J loans me some dry gloves. After triage, we determine that I am fit for further activity. We then had a lovely meander. And, for the record, we stayed far from the water, having no further need for adventure or affirmation of my mere mortal status. Today, anyways. I offer no guarantees regarding future adventures. :-)



Blogger Jennifer said...

Love it!

1:55 PM  

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