I was about halfway through the snow to the river when I realized that the path would not be plowed. I would have known this if I’d paused to think, but I’d been anxious to take advantage of the time between two soccer games, so I’d dashed out for a walk without really thinking everything through. “Typical,” I mutter as I take another step forward and sink again, ankle-deep in snow.
If I had paused before I left, I might have thought about this part of my walk – the part *after* the easy part. Maybe I would have decided to try it anyway, but since we got 20ish cm of snow yesterday, I probably would have stuck to the sidewalks. “Nah,” I realize, I wouldn’t have thought of it anyway. Apparently 15 years in Ottawa has not significantly improved my winter planning. And if I had thought of it, I would have stayed at the game – the sidewalk runs along a parkway with a fair amount of traffic. Yuck.
Anyway, now I have to decide: keep going – I can see that the trail is really snowy – or turn back. My own tracks will be firmer footing, but then I’ll be going backwards. And someone has already broken this trail, it’s just that they had better gear (snowshoes). What the heck, I decide, it’s only snow.
So I keep going towards the river. The trail does not get easier. Sometimes I sink up to mid-calf for step after step; other times the snowshoe path is firmer and I can move several feet on firm ground. This is a metaphor, I think. I am forever throwing myself into things first and only afterwards realizing what I’ve gotten myself into.
Nevertheless, I keep going. The trail along the river is divided into two paths, one for snowshoes and one for cross country skis. The ski path looks well-worn and firm. I bet if I walked there, I wouldn’t sink so much, I think. But I don’t, because that would make the trail much harder for the skiers. It’s not their fault I came unequipped. I continue my slow, uneven plodding, stopping regularly to look at the river. The view, the quiet – they’re worth the work. And sure, it would have been easier if I’d done this another way, but I didn’t, and I’m still here. This is a metaphor, I think, This is what it’s like to learn new things. I walk, stop, walk, stop; the snow slides into my boots; the bottoms of my leggings get soggy.
By the time I reach my turnoff, I’m hot and a little tired. My jacket is tied around my waist and I’ve even had to take off my hat. Just as I find firm footing on the pavement, two skiers pass me and nod. They glide smoothly forward, easily covering ground that had been so hard for me. I check my watch – I have taken a long time to go a short distance. Now, on the sidewalk, I pass more people. Our only obstacles are puddles, but we’re also surrounded by cars and the dirt of their exhaust is gray against the snow. I remind myself this is a extended metaphor and walk the rest of the way back to the soccer games.