Tracks in the Snow

If you build it, they will come.

I was either in 7th or 8th grade. In those days, my walk home was across the back expanse of the school field. That day it was snowing, so there were knee-high drifts of snow.

For those who don’t track through snow, knee-high snow is annoying. It’s fluffy and then it falls into your boots and melts and then you are out in the cold with wet feet. Especially when you are in middle school and are too cool for snow pants.

I guess I was the first one out. The field was pristine. I’d be making my own track.

Trudge, trudge, trudge.

I looked back and saw the trails in the snow. I knew that soon, the other kids would come out and they would trudge through the snow, but they would walk in my footsteps so that they didn’t have to get snow in their boots.

Then, I wondered. How much did was the convenience worth? How far would someone stray from the straight path just so they didn’t have to break new snow.

I veered a little bit. Then a little bit more. Finally, I broke into a switchback pattern across the field.

I waited in the forest and watched. The first person came. They followed. They veered, they swerved. They lasted until the switchback, and then with a grunt of annoyance they broke new ground.

It took about fifteen minutes. Gradually, the numerous feet wore down the path into a straight line again. But it was fun to watch.


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