Sunday, February 10, 2008

SlipSliding down Winter Alleys

I was going to title this, Beware Winter Alleys, but what is there to say? Fall down, go boom...end of conversation. I was one of those youths who had a legion of well meaning folks ever cautioning me to avoid his or that. The conversation started with "Don't you dare... as I recall. I always did, dare that is. I snuck out my window and roamed at night as a pre-teen. From the same window, I hopped into friend's cars as a teeny bopper, which we then had to roll down the street with lights out to avoid detection. Later on, when the DO NOT list started with boys, I knew if I ignored that advice, there was something great awaiting me, and I was right. I biked 2500 miles alone across Canada one time, which was the topic of much advice. So now I'm more sensible and the temptation list is really short.

However, even I know I should heed my own advice and avoid winter alleys buffed to a high gloss. Alleys in spring are a salad buffet, in summer, the miniature countryside of fragrant foliage and good eating, in fall a comforting, quiet get away (mind the garbage bins, stray cats and back yard mechanics).

Winter is another story. It can be either a skating rink or a geography of icy ridges, lightly covered mounds of dog poo, light powder on glass, like sawdust on a dance floor. I have lucked out so far in that all my spills have been benign and I do keep meaning to buy those ice traction get ups for boots. I see the tracks in my neighborhood of the sensible walkers who stick to the main streets and wear metal cleats.

Speaking of tracks, one clear January day, I saw a distinctive running shoe track in the snow way over by the city dock and as my course took me back several blocks to my neighborhood, I picked up the exact track along 5th Ave. W, followed it through this alley and then let it go, since it was just curiosity pure and simple. I had figured out it was a woman based on shoe size and stride. When I lived on the edge of 10 miles of mixed deciduous, conifer forest in Canada, tracking was our winter fun! What creatures we 'spotted'-bobcat, mountain lion, bear, deer, rabbit, porcupine, moose, weasel, ferret- if only by their footprints.
As these photos show, there is not a bleaker landscape than a
winter alley, and yet because this is only one aspect, albeit an ugly one, I know better things are in store. Like your beloved in winter, who is a decent sort of guy or gal, but who is cranky and out of sorts at this season, the winter alley is just biding its time, seeds snoring softly under the frozen earth, thousands of buds lining the bowed branches, poised to bust open, just awaiting the wake up kiss of spring.

Happy Alley Sliding!

1 comment:

Angela said...

Great to see you back, Alleygrazer! I'm looking forward to following along come spring to find all the good local alley edibles. For now, I'm staying out of those alleys. Too slippery! Right now I just pray to get from my front door to the car safely.