We haven't had any snow for weeks now. It means no shovelling but everything is dingy with grime at the edges, sand is worked into every surface, and there are broken-in footprints even where it isn't worth stepping.
In the forest, it means that all the...quotidien deposits...are in stark relief against the snow and every path looks like it's been walked thousands of times.
Not appealing, especially when my modus operandi - and in fact my instinct - in marginally natural spaces is to avoid everyone else and pretend that I'm in the middle of nowhere.
Assiniboine Forest, Winnipeg, MB. January 7, 2006.
But today, we noticed that someone had broken a trail off the path and into the trees. It had been walked enough not to be difficult but not so much that it was grubby or so slippery smooth it was soapy.
And so we walked among the elms, their grey-black bark studded orange from the long wet season that was summer, and the birches, their bark splitting here and there and so black it looked burnt, on a path that was completely unfamiliar to us.
Then, midway through the stand of trees, we came upon a dozen or more elms with delicate, sage-green lichen on them, and so, instead of focussing on the subtle contrasts between snow and sky or the long range forecast of trees in a field, there was something to see.
And I was glad that I hadn't missed it, that I had taken that path, and even that someone had come before me in this new middle of nowhere.