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Monday, December 21, 2009

SNOW FALLING

spring lizard creek
Tapo has come to join me as I write you. I'm in place for awhile, and she knows it. She likes to lie down between my arms and drape herself over one of my wrists to feel the rhythmic massage on her shoulder as my fingers dance over the keyboard. TarBaby caught a mouse in here earlier. He carried it into the kitchen and consumed all of it. Every one of these cats is a good mouser. I call it Hotel Hell for the mice. It's the place you check into, but you only check out by the litter box. No mouse escapes to tell the others to stay away from Hotel Hell. They keep on coming in, unaware they have entered the zone of certain death. This is the home of the mouse-eating monsters they heard about since they were little, but never saw one. When they see one, it's too late. They heard that too.
Earlier I went out for a walk into the woods in snow. Deer tracks were running all around in there. I about fell in the creek once. It wouldn't have been any more than a wet foot, but it didn't enter the water. There is this big maple that fell right down the path. To get around this tree now, you have to walk beside it and the ground gets closer to the water, until getting around the base of it, which is a narrow strip of ground, even narrower in a foot of snow, is an exercise in concentration. When I thought I had a fair foothold, I put my weight on it, and down I went, hands into the snow. It was cold. I was without gloves so I could work the camera better. I'd put it in the carrying box not long before I fell. Once I entered the woods, I knew how slippery the snow was, quite, and I put the camera away to keep it dry when I fell, because I already knew the terrain I'd be walking over, and imagined I'd fall at least twice. It happened 4 times. Like Jr said when one of the Services people said, "What if he falls?" Jr said, "I get up."
When the snow is a foot deep, it fills in the low places and makes little humps of the high places that are hidden under the snow. I knew the ground well enough to know where I was putting my feet every step. Another fall came when I was going uphill and had to step over what looked like a medium size log lying on the ground, a giant step up the hill with center of gravity down the hill took me down. Again, just sat down on the snow. It had a good cushion quality to it.
The next two times was going steeply uphill. None of the last 3 times did my hands touch the snow. It was that or soak a foot at that maple, and have to go straight back to the house. It was icy snow. I needed to grip it with my fingers to stop the slide. It's an interesting exercise to fall in a foot of snow and not use the hands. It's really better not to. Stiff-arming a fall breaks bones. Flowing with the fall makes for a light landing.
I knew before I left the road that walking in a foot of snow is not easy. I don't always want easy. It was an effort punching a hole every step. The snow where it touched the ground was wet and slick, because the ground was not frozen when the snow landed on it. The snow is melting from below, making it wet under the snow. The bottom of every step was in that thin layer of slush, which is why it was so slippery to walk uphill. About went over backwards one time, walking up a fairly steep slope, I was digging my heels to anchor the steps. One time I leaned a little too far back with my center of gravity behind the anchor point and had to take a step back to catch myself from going over. It wouldn't have hurt anything. It would be like falling back on a cushion. But I didn't want to do it.
I had memories of the entire area I walked today. I've been there so many times. It's the outdoor part of my home. I love it in snow. Might tomorrow take about twice as long a walk. The snow will be shrunk a half inch or an inch more by then. It won't make any difference. It's not like I have to race the clock. I can stop any time I want for as long as I want. And I don't have to have a designer workout jumpsuit. All I need is shoes with good traction on the bottom. These I wore today have almost none, the same as none. The absence of traction was behind every fall, but that was fine, I didn't mind falling. I knew when I put the shoes on they'd be slippery and chose to go with them.
The part that made the biggest challenge was entering and leaving the road. The road graders have piled it up to above my knees. I step on it, it almost holds, then in an instant all the way to the bottom. Next step is as high as my knee. The same thing. The next one too. Each one starts with that tentative moment that feels like it might hold, then it doesn't. Did that half a dozen steps each side of the road. As far as I know I have nowhere to be until next Saturday morning at the radio station. I'll let the snow between the Catfish and the road melt as much as it can on its own.
First thought Saturday morning when I looked out and saw the snow, was how much Whitehead misses Jr. On the day of a snow like this, Jr drove his tractor and blade all over Whitehead clearing people's driveways. That is one of several people's memories of Jr. I thought that all over Whitehead people are remembering Jr that morning with all the snow. In the spring they'll remember him again for plowing gardens for people all over Whitehead. Go out one morning with the blade on the tractor to push snow and go at it all day. Same with plowing. Out early in the morning and return at the end of the day. He never let the first one pay him.

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