Miss Know-It-All learns a lesson

I fell in love with snowshoeing in the early 1970s, when I was about 12 years old.
I loved the sport most because it was something we always did together as a family.
The wooden “Beavertail” snowshoes, with leather belted bindings, were too big and my winter boots often got stuck in the toe hole because I didn’t push my foot far enough to the bar.
My snowshoes were too long for my height and I couldn’t do the 180-degree turn around like my dad could. And when I tried, I invariably ended up in a contorted heap in the snow, like a long-legged newborn giraffe, unable to untangle myself and get up.
Still, I loved the whole experience.
Those long winter walks over the frozen creek bed, across the field, and into the thick forest behind my childhood home remain crystal clear recalls for me, as if they happened yesterday.
We had the same destination every time in that forest. We negotiated up and over the snow-covered rocks and the barbed wire fence that kept my grandfather’s cattle in check, before arriving in the big pines where we’d build a little fire from sticks and pieces of wood lying around.
The canvas pack sack my dad carried on his back would come off and be opened to the eagerness of both of us kids, as the wieners went on roasting sticks and the buns, ketchup, and a thermos of hot chocolate made the picnic around the warm fire.
The family dog always came along, and I imagine the hotdog or two it would be passed from the outstretched hand of a child were more than enough reward for the work it took the dog to get there with us through the deep snow.
In all the years since those good old days, my love for snowshoeing has never wavered. But here’s the thing—I haven’t had that pair of snowshoes on, nor any other pair, since 1977.
Thus hatched the circus in my neck of the woods on Saturday when, for the first time in 38 years, I decided to try my luck at snowshoeing.
The snowshoes I wore in the 1970s still hang in my parents’ garage. That pair probably would fit me perfectly today but, of course, I opted to buy a modern pair with aluminum frames as a graduation present to myself.
I brought them home three weeks ago and hung them on a hook in my kitchen—and never once did I think to practise getting to know how they worked.
They were snowshoes. How different could they be?
By the time I’d dressed in multiple layers Saturday morning, I couldn’t bend over to jimmy my feet into the plastic bindings, let alone figure out how the system worked, and had to take most of my clothes off while standing in the outside doorway in order to do so.
I couldn’t put the snowshoes on inside the house because of the crampons, or steel teeth, underneath that helped with traction and I certainly didn’t need a set of giant teeth tracks across my kitchen floor.
All I know for sure is that I had an attack of the “cramp-ons” from all the work it took to get the stupid things on.
Then, all at once, I was off on my solo quest, chest puffed out, my Olympic-sized ego in tow, headed for the bush line far across the creek with no pack sack, no food or matches, and no note left behind to tell loved ones where to come looking for me should I go missing.
I hadn’t walked more than 30 feet into the deep snow when my butt muscles started to spasm and my legs turned to cement.
I had two canine capers that followed close behind me, refusing to blaze their own trail for fear that I would eat the dog treats they could smell in my coat pocket. In fact, so close did they follow that they stepped on my snowshoes—hurling me face-first into a snowdrift.
The dogs just sat there behind me like ice statues, waiting for me to get up and blaze on.
And I hadn’t even made it out of my own yard at that point. By the time I made it down to the creek, I’d fallen three times, lost one mitt, and dropped my camera in the snow.
The dogs then bolted off down the creek bed with their noses to the ground fast on the scent of creatures unseen. They disappeared around the bend, leaving me standing there listening to the sound of my heart pounding, “Can I go home now,” as my thigh muscles burned holes in my long underwear from acute overuse.
I was standing there motionless and cold when the dogs came roaring back in my direction, followed closely by what I thought was a wolf—and they were leading it straight to me in the wake of their own terror.
My first thought was to release myself from my snowshoes and use them as shields, but I didn’t even know how to get them off.
My heart was in need of a defibrillator by the time I realized it was not a wolf, but a much larger neighborhood dog. All three canines arrived at my feet with tails wagging for those treats I still had in my pocket.
I threw in the towel.
I looked back at the house 150 feet away, and thought how nice it would be if Isaiah Mustafa suddenly arrived on a white snowmobile and offered me a ride home.
Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.

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