the snowy day.

If I concentrate really hard I can remember a time (I think) when it snowed in the Susquehanna Valley. Even then though, a pre-winter snowfall of any significance was a rarity. Forecasts call for snow several times a year, but some slight shift in the weather pattern or uncooperative temperatures usually turn promises into wintery mixes, sleet or cold, cold rains.

Tired of the boy crying wolf, when the weathermen were projecting 8"-12" of the white stuff on December 19, I turned a deaf ear. But, sure enough, they got it right this time. Snow it was without a single drop of anything else.

My day began with a quick dash to work to pick up a pair of snowshoes before ducking into the grocery store for supplies other than milk and bread. Snow was already falling, but the roads were in decent condition. At least they were when I left the house. By the time I left Manheim behind me and started the drive "up" into Sporting Hill, conditions had changed dramatically.

Getting home via Mt. Joy Road was out of the question as a jack-knifed feed truck had gobbled up both lanes of traffic and cars were standing in line in both directions. I hung a quick-thinking left hand turn, dropped across the covered bridge on Sunhill Road, crossed over the railroad tracks and...failed to make the inclined turn onto Junction Road. After spinning wheels for a moment, I eased off the gas, put the car in reverse and backed up enough to hopefully get the momentum required to make it up the hill. It sounded great in my head but it didn't work. By my second attempt, other cars had caught onto my brilliant detour and were crowding me from the rear. I-own-an-SUV impatience convinced one driver to pull around me while I backed up and I inched over to the right to create a bit of space between our cars. The end result was the passenger’s side rear tire of my Ford Focus becoming pathetically ensnared between a railroad tie and the actual rail. There I sat directly on the railroad tracks going nowhere.

But I digress. My escape is a story unto itself, but is not the story of my snowy day. Suffice to say, friendly roving snow Samaritans and eventually AAA combined to deliver both me and the vehicle to the safety of my driveway and garage. And, believe it or not, I was grinning the entire time. Snow in December brings with it boundless hope.

Paragraph 2 of this post contains a lie. I tried to turn a deaf ear to the prognosticators but I didn't succeed entirely. On Friday night I found myself wandering into the local hardware store in search of a sled. I left with two. I was fully prepared to hang them in the garage for some later date, but I really, really hoped that they'd get some use the next day. And they did.

After being bundled up by her mother to the point that her arms were suspended straight out at her sides as though her coat was still on its hanger, Lily offered me her mittened hand and we headed for the backyard. Our deep is on a downhill slope that butts up against a decommissioned elementary school playground. The playground also slopes away before joining a farmer's field. Lil and I had a couple of acres all to ourselves though we needed little of that expanse.

Eight inches of powder was enough for the two of us to "wahoo!" and "yay!" maniacally. I'd daydreamed about this day long before actually becoming a father and it was as joyous and magical as I'd imagined. Sub-freezing temperatures, however, cut our festivities short as Lily's sensitive skin was beginning to light up like Rudolph's nose. Whether because she's a trooper or because she sensed Daddy's enthusiasm for sledding, Lil never said a word but there was no hiding the fact that she was frigid. I delivered her to the safety of the house, Lindsay's shared blanket and a steaming cup of cocoa.

Snowblowing blows, but having a long driveway and a short attention span for chores, I ignored the shovel and blew snow. My run was calling.

I own a pair of Crescent Moon Gold 12 running snowshoes, but they've been little more than decorations on my garage wall for the last couple of years. I blew the dust off of them (literally) and adjusted the bindings to accommodate my Mountain Masochists. I had a vague notion of covering the two miles of farmer's fields between my backyard and the nearby section of converted rails-to-trails but was happy enough just to be on snowshoes after a long hiatus.

Running snowshoes are much more compact than traditional snowshoes so that the wearer isn't tripping all over himself or herself. The tradeoff is that these "shoes" don't have the surface area needed to effectively keep wearers up on top of the snow in deep powder. In other words, I and my Gold 12s needed a packed trail or a compressed, icy snow pack of which we had neither. Three-quarters of a mile into my "run", I knew it was time to turn and make this a short "out-and-back".

Except for stopping to snap a quick photo, I ran the whole mile and a half, but I ended up feeling like I ran 10 miles. By the time I got back to the house, I realized that I was absolutely exhausted. I also realized that I still had the same ridiculous grin on my face that had been there since the first flakes began to fall that morning.

To be completely honest, I think that grin had made its way onto my face the very first time I heard mention that it might snow. Deaf ear? What can I say? Snow hope spring eternal.

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