Changing seasons from crusted snowshoes to dusty trail-shoes

   By Randal B. Thatcher

Changing seasons from crusted

snowshoes to dusty trail-shoes




It seemed strange, and altogether surreal, to return home with dust covered shoes, after a recent tramp round the same loop-trail that had necessitated snowshoes only seven weeks earlier.

The topography and landmarks were still mostly familiar: same wooded glen, same sprawling meadow, same boulder field and same decades-old carvings on particular aspen trees.

But the feelings, as I romped around this favorite local trail, were decidedly and dramatically different—my focus having gone from avoiding a disastrous slip into an icy canal creek that runs parallel to parts of this path, to consciously seeking out a deep, placid spot in that very same creek, wherein I might (and, incidentally, did) happily immerse myself.

After those many, lumbering snowshoe expeditions through “the great white silence” of January, February, March and even early April, I was suddenly strolling so merrily through May’s myriad shades of green, that I couldn’t help thinking of that mythical land of Narnia, and how magical and miraculous seemed all those sounds, sights and even smells of springtime, after the “great thaw,” which finally ended their Hundred-Year Winter.

And, as in Narnia, all the animals and woodland creatures in my springtime forest also seemed “oddly chipper,” with birdsong resonating from every tree, and squirrels with extra bushy tails dashing excitedly here and there.

Such seasonal changes are not always as stark or pronounced as they are in Utah, and maybe especially here in our Sanpete Valley. (While traveling in Southeast Asia, for example, the locals would joke that they had only two seasons: hot, and hotter.)

Our summers are hot, to be sure; but that’s all the better for leaping headlong into an inviting pond, or submersing oneself into an accommodatingly cool creek.

And our winters are cold, no doubt; but all the better for curling up by a cozy fire, with a mug of something warm, after a frosty outdoor adventure.

And, if our spring and fall are sometimes a bit short (which my wife hears me complain of annually), at least we have them, giving us four distinct seasons.

I used to think I’d prefer to live in a place where it doesn’t ever get quite so cold or so hot as it does here; a place, perhaps, like San Diego. But I no longer think that. I’m quite delighted with our four separate seasons, and the sights, sounds and experiences they each bring… Are the surround hills adorned in white, green, browns or dappled with color? Is it time for the pruning of fruit trees, or for the harvesting of their fruit? Is it time for the chopping of firewood, or for the burning of it in the wood-stove? Is it time for the wool-cap or the straw-hat? Time for the wind-proof, fleece-lined pants, or for shorts? The puffy-jacket, or a t-shirt? Is it time for skating on top of the frozen pond, or for splashing gleefully about within it? Is it the season for plodding on snowshoes, or for scampering in trail shoes? (Or maybe the transitional, in-between, mud-boots?)

It feels oddly incongruous now, on a scorching, 90-degree day, to glimpse those same snowshoes, dangling uselessly from their hook in the shed, and to ponder a day and a season when they might finally be required again; or to backstroke my way around the neighbors’ pond, while trying to imagine a time when I might return with skates to glide about on its frozen surface.

But, just as the miracle of spring came finally to Narnia, bringing with it such profound and welcome changes, so will a sweltering Sanpete summer morph eventually into crisp, multi-colored autumn, and then to an even crisper day, when I will finally retrieve those snowshoes from their hook, heading up a slippery canyon road, to trudge, once again, into a vastly changed landscape.

When that day finally comes, and as I’m breaking a laborious trail through the snow, I’m sure I will marvel over a distant recollection of a day when I skipped so lightly over that same trail, returning home with dusty shoes.


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