The old man from Maine

My snowshoes are almost as old as I am, but they seem to be holding up well. My parents bought them, along with the pair my Dad still uses, direct from the old craftsman who made them. That was shortly after we moved to Maine in 1967, I think. Down here in central Pennsylvania, some winters go by without any suitable conditions for snowshoeing at all, but here we are still in January and there’s already enough snow — some 13 inches now.

Snowshoeing is kind of the opposite of a sport: it’s slow and ungainly, and doesn’t require any special skills other than the ability to walk. It does let one cross hidden logs and boulders without worrying about twisting an ankle, and in any snow deeper than about mid-calf it’s the only practical way to get around — skis don’t cut it. Snowshoeing for me is a way of feeling connected to the north woods, not to mention to family tradition.

I happened to be filming when a ruffed grouse burst out of the snow right in front of me, and I got some footage of its rapidly disappearing hind end. I had a little more luck filming the somewhat less reclusive old couple I met on the trail.

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