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Humor January 2013

Strictly Humor

When Bigfoot Turns Pro

By B. Elwin Sherman

If you're one of that baffling ilk who say "at least you can dress for the cold," I can't help you; I'll never understand you, and may the penguins of paradise march into your foot pajamas.

ps_bshermanI've been invited by a friend to go snowshoeing this winter, and my response, as it always is whenever I consider going where this man has never gone before, is to first do a little research.

I like to know the pros and cons of any new enterprise right up front. I will carefully balance the facts against my intuition, think it through with my head, feel it through with my heart, and whatever settles in my gut is usually the right way to go. Usually.

This methodology and practice has failed me on occasion, and when I think back over those misadventures, they've always involved some fateful combination of weather, destination, apparatus and physical prowess, all of which I over- or underestimated.

So, when the prospect was put to me of walking over snow in the cold while strapped into oversized footwear with this body, I sprang into action.

First, the word: "snowshoeing." I noticed right away that the word itself contains three consecutive vowels. Should all else go wrong, as a writer I could assign some degree of blame right there. Such words are fraught with danger – beauty, spontaneous, eunoia – all precarious words, and the latter is from the Greek, meaning "a well mind."

My first question, thus, was if anyone in their right eunoia and my body who'd never snowshoed before, should consider taking it up.

I can't help it. This is how humorists think.

The folks at The Old Farmer's Almanac have predicted that this winter for my neck of the woods will have more cold and snow than usual. That's one each for my snowshoeing pro and con lists. If you're one of that baffling ilk who say "at least you can dress for the cold," I can't help you; I'll never understand you, and may the penguins of paradise march into your foot pajamas.

I understand the logistical advantage of more snow, but then my avid snowshoeing friend told me how she once went out into the wild and got into trouble because "the snow was too deep." This alone should be enough, along with the fact that a colder than usual winter is upon us, to keep me indoors in carpet slippers (I'm listening to my innards now). I mean, isn't deep snow the whole motivation for walking over it less deeply?

And, we're not talking necessity here. Living where I do, if my only mode of transportation was snowshoes, I'd have long ago been an honorary Nanook of the North. No, this was something I'd be doing for fun: always the most dangerous reason to do anything.

My head, heart and gut needed more information, so I turned to the experts at Snowshoe Magazine, and their "First-Timer's Guide To Snowshoeing." Their instruction on how to deal with the difficulty of deep-snow ambulation on big artificial feet, was to "lift your knees and shorten your stride." Well, if I wanted to do that, I'd simply stay at home beside my warm hearth and repeatedly put on my pants.

Still, I found the facts I needed to satisfy all my body referees, as the pros and cons became clear:

Lots of pros: Easy to learn. Inexpensive. Fresh air. Exposure to scenic wonders otherwise inaccessible. Sunshine. Great for the cardiovascular. Burns 600 calories an hour. Ah ... everything I need, body & soul.

Cons? Wait a minute: Getting lost. Frostbite. Hypothermia. Thin ice. Altitude sickness. And, as if the risk of freezing to death by degrees just prior to breaking through and drowning in an uncharted lake wasn't enough, there was always the risk of AVALANCHES.

I've long subscribed to baseball legend Wee Willie Keeler's advice to hitters: "Keep your eye clear, and hit 'em where they ain't." To date, this is how I've successfully not been buried in mountain tsunamis, by always walking where they ain't, on or off snowshoes.

I think I'm now armed with enough information to make an informed decision:

Yes, I might attempt a snowshoeing outing, after a little more practice getting dressed in front of the fireplace.


Humor columnist B. Elwin Sherman writes from and walks around in Bethlehem, NH, when he must.

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