Life . . . updated

Last weekend was very busy here in the great white frozen north.  On Saturday, DH & I took the kids to one of our lovely state parks for a beginner snowshoeing lesson.  The park naturalist leading the group was the same gentleman who taught us voyageur canoeing at another state park a couple summers ago.  Voyageur canoeing is sitting in a ten-man canoe with everyone paddling at the same time, and in the same rhythm (so as not to bonk paddles together).  It was quite fun.

Now that you’re warm from thinking about summer, we’ll get back to the snowshoeing lesson.  Yes I’m sorry, but we do have to get back on track here.  It was cruel to get warm and then go back to thinking about winter and snow.  Grab a cup of coffee, tea or cocoa.  That will help ease the transition.

Snowshoeing was something I have been trying to get DH to agree to for years.  This may sound quite backwards since he’s the outdoorsy one and I am the homebody but it’s true.  I have long been of the opinion that we need to get outdoors more as a family, especially in winter (since we have so many months of it here).  And snowshoeing sounded like a good way to hike in the winter.  Unlike downhill skiing where one can break bones in a fall, snowshoeing-to me- seemed a safe way to get outdoors in the winter.  (Yes, I am 46 years old and no, to this date I have not broken any bones ever and I’d kinda like to keep it that way since us old people don’t mend as quickly.)

Finally, this year, DH agreed that we should try them out to see if we were going to enjoy them.  He still hasn’t said yes to buying them but I’m hopeful.  So, off we went to the state park to try out snowshoeing.  Boy did I learn a lot!  First off, I learned that there are lots of different types of snowshoes and bindings also.  I also learned that what snowshoe you pick will depend upon the snow conditions and distance you want to cover in them.  I learned that snowshoes have a left foot and a right foot just like regular shoes and boots and that they are made to move inwards just a bit as you walk if you have them on correctly. (More on that later.)  I also learned that the snowshoes I have been bugging DH to let me buy for the family for the past several years are only good for walking on hard, ice covered snow or packed trails.  The modern snowshoes that I had been ogling in the LL Bean and Land’s End catalogs will not hold you up in soft snow because they are too narrow and too short.  Well, at least that saved us from spending a lot of money only to get discouraged with them.

Anyway, once the lecture part was done, we all donned our winter cold weather clothing, every layer of it and went outside to receive our pair of snowshoes that we would be using that afternoon.  I was set up with a pair of modified bear paw snowshoes with Bob Maki bindings.  If you want to know what a Bob Maki binding looks like, just google that phrase and it should come up for you.  It’s quite an interesting looking binding and it has its pros and cons, as I was soon to find out.  We were instructed to step out into the snow to put on our snowshoes since: A) we were all wearing boots and B) hard surfaces like concrete and pavement are very hard on the laquer used on these wooden snowshoes we were using.  So we did.  I was happy with the speed at which I was able to put on my snowshoes.  Our instructor told us that if we had our snowshoes on, we should try taking small steps while keeping the tail of the snowshoes down.  I did this several times and then overheard someone say to their spouse “You’ve got your snowshoes on the wrong feet.”.  No, it wasn’t DH speaking, however, I looked down at my feet confident that I wouldn’t make that mistake.  Oh, crud!  Mine were also on the wrong feet as evidenced by the L shoe on my right foot and the R shoe on my left.  Good thing the kids were there.  Saved me from swearing out loud anyway.  I bent back down and slipped off the bindings, moved the shoes to the correct feet, slipped the bindings back on and once again had Ditty help pull me up to stand.  Did I mention that getting up was a bit awkward?  Oh, well it was.  For me anyway, once the kids learned how to do it they got a bit cocky about it.

The instructor then led the group over to an area where we could stand an arm’s width apart in a circle facing him to go over the basics about walking, turning around, falling and getting back up in snowshoes.  We learned that you never walk backwards in snowshoes, because if the tail of the snowshoe gets buried in snow – you’re stuck.  After making a daisy circle and learning the kick-turn, we were ready to head out into the bog.  Yes, the bog.  Why, because it offered such good, uneven snow cover that we were bound to put everything we’d been taught to use.  We very quickly learned how to go down an incline.  Don’t stop, keep your toes up and the tails down, fall on your backside if you must fall because a face plant hurts.  Well, I didn’t keep my toes up quite high enough and I fell, forward but not quite a face plant.  DH was there and helped me back up (laughing, mostly under his breath) and I soldiered on. 

When we got to the bog, we were allowed to either follow in the instructor’s trail or break our own trail (now there’s something you don’t hear in a state park in any other season.  Spring, Summer, and Autumn you have to hike on the established trails and there are probably hefty fines if you are caught breaking new trails).  So, confident that I had put my fall behind me, I decided to walk my own path to the destination.  And after about one minute, fell a second time.  Okay, now this was getting annoying.  DH and the kids were far ahead of me, my toe had come out of the binding from my foot getting turned as I struggled to get foot and snowshoe out of the snow and I really didn’t like this whole falling business as I was getting quite snowcovered.  Well, I adjusted the snowshoes by taking them off and putting them back on (I was not about to try and twist my foot back into the binding.)  DH did notice me sitting in the snow and came to help me up.  The woman who had stopped to help was about half my size and I wasn’t quite sure she would have been able to get me on my feet due to the softness and depth of the snow I was mired in.  And I adjusted my attitude as well.  Falling twice in less than a five minute time span tends to put one in a rather foul mood (or at least it does me) so I needed to quit grousing (in my mind I was saying all the things I wanted to say out loud but didn’t) and get on with it.  I also decided to stay in the tracks of others rather than try to break trail anymore.  It wasn’t worth falling again just to be able to say “I did it all by myself”.  And I realized that I had a lot to learn about walking in snowshoes.

After getting well out into the bog, the instructor told us he was now going to take us back and that we were going to learn how to go up a hill on snowshoes.  Oh boy, I’m not sure I’m ready for this.  I had finally managed to walk more than five minutes without falling.  Hills?  Hmmm.  But trek back we did and up the hill we went.  Dig your toes in but not the fronts of the snowshoes.  Walk on tiptoes up the hill.  Oh and grab onto every single sorry little tree sapling on the way up as you go.  I was certainly glad there were plenty of them on the side of that bank.  As was the lady in front of me.  Others in the group decided to climb the less steep area a little further down.  We all got up there one way or the other.

Once at the top, the instructor told us he would finish the lesson by teaching us how to run in snowshoes.  I had finally mastered walking.  I wasn’t sure I was ready to run in them.  But run we did.  I didn’t fall.  I kept my toes up and looked quite silly I’m sure.  But I didn’t fall.  I did slow down to help Ditty back up when she fell. BooBoo did a good job and later started falling just for the fun of it.  Where he got the idea that falling was fun, I’m not sure, but he had a blast doing it.

After snowshoeing until about 3p.m., we went back to the main building and brought our snowshoes inside, per the instructor’s request.  Oh, I forgot to mention, we also learned that you should put your snowshoes outside for several hours (or overnight) before walking in them so that they don’t get a bunch of snow sticking to them due to the change in temperature between indoors and outdoors.  Ditty and I changed into clean shirts.  It’s amazing how warm you get while snowshoeing.  And all of us rid ourselves of the long underwear.  We had to get back to another city about an hour away from the park, where we would attend a dance show fundraiser for the danceline program our friends’ daughter was in at her school.

The dance show was fun.  Our friends’ daughter was in five different dances (three with her school team and two with her dance academy) involving, of course, five different costumes.  There were other schools and dance academies performing there as well and I have to say I liked the costumes much better this year than last year.  Last year the dance academies tarted up the little girls ridiculously.  This year’s costumes seemed to reflect a turn to seeing them as little girls and were way more modest than last year.  I’ll have to ask if the school she attends requested that change.

Then Sunday came and after Mass, BooBoo had a wrestling tournament here.  DH & I both volunteered with the tournament and we enjoyed it.  BooBoo didn’t place in the top four but the tournament is organized so that all the kids “place” somewhere and all receive a trophy to commemorate their involvement.  The champions also receive a t-shirt that says Champion on the back.  They were quite proud of that t-shirt and they should be, they wrestled well.  Good sportsmanship was modeled and strongly encouraged by all the coaches present.  That was also nice to see.  This was our first tournament and it seemed a little chaotic to me, but I have nothing to really compare it to so maybe it wasn’t as chaotic as it seemed.  It was an all day affair though and I was quite glad when we were done.  DH & BooBoo left after he was done wrestling.  I left after we had finished cleaning up the concession stand.

It was an exhausting but fun weekend.  Now back to the regular grind.


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