When the bough breaks ... and it will
WHEN MOST PEOPLE LOOK at a beautiful photo or postcard that depicts a snowy woods in beautiful light, they see a scenic and inviting winter wonderland. They see vast blankets of untouched whiteness, beautiful, blue-shadowed drifts and evergreen boughs bent and heavy with snow.
I see all that too. But mostly I see the reason why the turtleneck sweater and the scarf were invented.
Call me odd, but there are few things I like less than having a bough full of snow dumped down the back of my collar. Yet, that is the most constant and predictable gift the winter woods give to me.
I also believe it is the reason why the chickadees seem so happy to see me step into the forest. They know this is going to be good for a laugh or two.
You can hardly blame them. Just think about how much joy you get when you see snow collapse from an overhanging bough and funnel down the back of the neck of the person breaking trail ahead of you.
It’s hilarious. I think we can all agree it’s not nearly as funny when frigid snow makes its way down the back of your neck, however.
It would be, if it ended there. But we all know it never does. No, that snow melts and travels like a receding glacier and eventually creates a deep lake in a place where water was never meant to pool, which is doubly embarrassing if you stop to get groceries on the way home.
Rest assured, when my grade-school teachers explained the hydrological cycle, they never once mentioned this.
Yet it is truly the way of the winter woods.
The interesting thing about snow that falls from boughs is that it never falls ahead of you. Instead, it waits patiently, biding its time until some unsuspecting rube approaches. Then, once the bare skin at the back of that person’s neck is beneath, it strikes with unerring accuracy – and, generally, with six times the amount of snow that any bough or avalanche should reasonably hold.
It’s just my theory but I believe this is the primary reason people started carrying axes and cutting down trees. I suspect they also liked the irony of burning trees to warm up again.
I mean, if you think about it, primitive man dressed in poorly tailored animal furs was no match for a stand of evergreens in January. And, let’s be honest, things are no different today. You enter woods like this at your own peril.
Modern man, of course, is smarter, has more technology and is more prepared for these incidents. That’s why, in most cases, we let someone walk ahead of us. Also, our parkas fit a little tighter at the neck if we zip them and use the drawstrings.
This, as everyone knows, is the surest way to prevent snow from overhanging boughs making its way down the back of your neck.
Instead, all that snow will land in your hood and then go down the back of your neck the minute you decide you need to pull it up to warm your ears.
This will make the chickadees and your trailmates laugh and perhaps even incite a round of applause.
Then, the polite thing to do is smile and take a bough.