Alright. We here at Fool’s Gold are back in business after a long winter’s nap, only minus the snoozing. You see, the season has another long-standing tradition that I’ve had to deal with instead.
Most such traditions have to do with the clump of holidays we just survived. Some people seize this time to slip into heavy drinking, others into meth. I, on the other hand, slip on ice.
(Note: I use ice in the archaic sense of “frozen water on the ground,” not diamonds or—I learned this definition just after writing “meth” above—methamphetamines.)
This year, I traveled for a week to visit family, and when I came home, I discovered that municipal street-plowing services do not extend to personal front yards. Faced with so much frozen runoff, I could have beaten myself silly against the forces of nature. But I didn’t. I simply resigned myself to living with an icy stoop until it melts around about August. Better that the ritual slipping-on-the-ice happen at my own front door than out in public, captured on security camera footage.
Yet even though the ice in places was no thicker than a Chicago deep dish, I was expecting company for the new year. And I figured they might like to have their tailbones unbroken for the duration of their stay.
To stave off their slippage, I purchased my very first bag of rock salt. I sprinkled it along my iced walkway. And then I read my very first rock salt bag label.
The repercussions of coming into incidental contact with rock salt sound more severe than dying on ice. Plus, the salt could really erode the vibe of my shoes.
So I turned to alternative means. Sand is good for traction—think of how nobody falls down in the opening shots of Baywatch—but I was already going to the grocery store, which does not sell sand, but which does sell kitty litter.
Now I know very little about cats. I know they are warm and cuddly in one’s lap while they tease their claws through one’s jeans and into one’s genitalia. I know they wear their buttholes like merit badges. And I know at least one real Coloradan who carries kitty litter in the trunk to gain traction on snowy roads.
So I bought a box of kitty litter, and I sprinkled it atop my rock-salted porch, and within a few magical hours, it all turned to mush.
I don’t know if you have ever tried to clean kitty litter oatmeal off of wet pavement, but if you have, you probably failed, too. My company showed up, and our first order of business was to rid our feet of kitty litter hash. So we went snowshoeing.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t believe showshoeing would so much as clear the tread in my boots. My understanding of the molecular physics behind the sport is that you strap tennis racquets to your feet and Jesus around the newfallen snow, remaining perfectly dry. But, hey, if my two racquets were strung with the guts of actual cats, I’d call it even.
No such luck. We rented poles and metal shoes, which looked like they wouldn’t even be allowed on the grounds at Wimbledon. As nimbly as I could with what felt like a small child clutching each ankle, I clopped atop the first snowdrift along the trail. And I promptly clopped knee-deep into it.
That’s right. One does not, technically, walk on the snow in snowshoes. The legend of snowshoes is a fabrication, girls and boys—a lie perpertrated by parents and society to keep us enthralled until really you ought to have figured it out by now and it’s kind of embarrassing, actually, to admit to our friends that you still believe in it.
But, we had paid for the shoes until six o’clock, so we trudged ever deeper into the forest, pausing only to turn around at the halfway point, a process which, in snowshoes, would be aided by a railway turntable. While taking a breather, I stabbed my poles straight down in the snow, and they promptly disappeared up to the hilt.
Welp. We were standing a mere eight inches deep atop maybe four feet of powder. These snowshoes are no religious experience, mind you, but they appeared to be actually keeping us afloat.
I really got the hang of those things on the way out of the woods. The mountain air rejuvenated my spirits, and whaddya know, the snow cleansed my shoes of cat litter.
We came home happy, and then my front porch promptly re-littered our shoes. But right now, I have zero energy to clean them again. Snowshoeing is way too exhausting, and I still haven’t had that nap.