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Hanging Up the Snowshoes

Lui Collins

In the valley towns,
and daffodil
confidently declare the arrival
of spring.
Not so up in these hills I love.
My snowshoes still hang
ready on the outside
of the woodshed door.

I have trudged into the woods
every day this week
through corn snow
every day more rotten
beneath my weight.
Trudged on awkward webbing
all the way down to the falls.
Spring, maybe, in the valley,
but here the going is slow
as several feet of snow still linger
in the cool half-shadows of winter-bare trees.

Today is sunny and warm.
The fierce wind
that bangs the door
of the sheep barn
is fierce in volume only.
The pile of winter’s plowings
– packed hard and icy against
my yesterday’s shovel –
does not stand a chance
against the warm air
this wind drives relentlessly into its shrinking remains.

It is early evening
before I get out to the woods.
I won’t be fooled
by the day’s warmth.
I grab my snowshoes
from the nail
as I step out my front door.

The upper path
down to the first creek crossing
is open to the sun,
the ground bare for days now.
Just above the bridge
I come to the deep snow,
my boots suddenly
sinking in above their tops.
I smile to myself
as I buckle on my snowshoes
and continue down to the bridge –
still a good foot of snow on it,
but the creek has risen
and its waters lap the upper edge
of the planks.

Not far across the bridge,
the path itself becomes a creek.
I unstrap and
step out of the harnesses,
wade in my Bean boots
through water and mud
and leafy debris.

Woods in the throes of spring
Are so like life –
and messy.
I am grinning and wading
and sloshing,
ducking branches
as I work my way deeper
into the woods.
Let me at these messy woods
for Spring is surely
Nothing can stop her now –
nor me, I do declare.

The sun is sinking lower.
I head uphill.
Snowshoes still in hand,
I plunge into the drifted snow
back across the bridge
in blithe disregard
of any snow-overflow into my boots.
On up to the bare ground of
the last hill and
round the last trees into my dooryard.

I reach for the empty nail to put my
snowshoes where they have hung
close at hand
all the long winter – and then stop.
Triumphantly, I lift the
latch to the woodshed door
step into the shadows
and turn to the nail
on the wall to my right.
These snowshoes have served me well
this long winter of unending snowfall,
carried me faithfully
into my beloved woods.
I hang them ceremoniously.
They deserve a good rest
and I do believe Spring has arrived.

Earth Day
April 22, 2001
revised May 21, 2004

Posted in Lyrics

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