I think we can agree that a snowclad landscape is a beautiful sight – provided that our driveways are not a part of that landscape. Having said that, a snowclad landscape is also deceptive, for it hides all sorts of hazardous things we should know the location of – my snow shovel immediately comes to mind.
The problem, as I see it, is that in this busy world we like to simplify things. So, when some weatherperson says we will accumulate eight inches of snow – as we have done around my house recently – we forget that this is merely an average snow depth.
The truth is always worse. There will always be places that will be way above average and have approximately 16 feet of snow. The chasm I stepped into while walking my dog this morning was one such location.
I am exaggerating, of course. It was not so much a chasm as it was a gaping hole. But it was also the worst kind of gaping hole – one with 16 feet of snow in it. Worse still, it was also just on the other side of the log I was in the midst of stepping over.
Let me first say, what results from this sort of misstep is never a good look. Typically, when one of your legs is swallowed to its confluence down a hole and the other leg is situated so its knee is located somewhere above your ear, it’s best not to take selfies – unless you are going for a horror movie look.
Luckily, I did not have to suffer this indignity because the log stopped my undercarriage short.
“Ouch!” I immediately blurted out, although in a higher pitched voice than you are probably imagining. This, in my experience, is the only genuine thing to say.
I won’t lie. I have dabbled in other phrases just in case someone is within earshot and witnessing the event. I once used, “Gotta love straddling a frozen tree!” but that seemed a bit glib and disingenuous, especially when coupled with the wincing and involuntary tears.
But I digress.
The point is to not get too caught up in average snow depth. Instead, just be very suspicious of it. I personally take that average number and multiply it by 18 just to be safe. You can never be too cautious.
I have also developed a strategy, which I did not use this morning, to avoid those literal pitfalls.
The best way, by far, is to follow in the tracks of a taller person. A telltale hint of a sudden increase in snow depth is when you blink and they are no longer there or suddenly merely your height. At that point it is prudent to be cautious.
Or course, there comes a time every winter when you will have used up all your taller friends. Once that point is reached, I highly recommend resorting to a hiking pole with a ski cup attachment at the base. Then use the same sort of approach that soldiers crossing an active mine field utilize – which basically means getting some unknowing fool to walk in front of you.
Failing all these things, it doesn’t hurt to look for indicators such as the tops of hats ahead of you in the snow. Also, consider wearing a colourful hat so the next guy can find you.