When the bough breaks ... and it will

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS - OPEN COUN­TRY

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.

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