I love to walk along my old Vermont dirt road in winter.
When it snows, I sometimes shield my eyes
For either way, I can be blinded. But at least on my own terms, I feel safe.
Each snowflake has its own little impact: some compress under my feet, leaving prints to keep track of where I've been.
Some sparkle and catch my eye, make me smile with the purest, simplest form of joy.
However, often the snow sugarcoats the road's condition, like the sweet grains it reminds me of.
Of course, it also reminds me of salt, which it is often mixed with anyway.
It can fill the space between the ruts, make a pothole appear shallow, or render a sheet of glare ice invisible.
So of course I slip, usually not too much; a stumble here, an unbalanced moment caused by an unexpected hole there.
I try not to fall, but when I do I must get up. My pants may be wet for the rest of my walk, but it's far better than sitting in the mud and snow, not going anywhere.
I cannot predict these things; the road changes every day.
It could be gouged with ruts a foot deep one afternoon, and the next I find the grader has come and made it as smooth as the white bark of an observing birch.
When walking my road, I'm cautious about the turns where I cannot see beyond the trees.
If a car comes, it's common sense to stay away from it, of course. But if it comes without warning, around a curve, I would at least be startled by it.
I hope nothing worse than that ever happens to me, but I know there's no guarantee; so still I tread carefully.
I tend to watch my feet as I walk, mindlessly taking step after step.
But I need to look up more often.
Because when I do, when I let myself drift for a moment, the view is breathtaking.
Each snowflake falls around me, so different, so cherishable.
The sun smiles; if not, even the clouds form fantastic shapes to delight me.
My mother tells me that even when she's old and relies on a cane, I'll still see her out walking these old Vermont dirt roads.
And I believe her. I'll surely see you, walking along your own road. Or perhaps we'll meet along the same one.
Either way, we'll all keep walking, day after day.
As for me? I'll look ahead, to where my old Vermont dirt road meets the interstate.
To the horizon, where the promise of a new road awaits as the sun rises.
And to the snowflakes I may or may not care about, recognize, or even know exist. So I may cherish those that fall on my road, or on my tongue, where I can taste the sweetness of winter.
I'll try to see through the snowflakes that hide obstacles along the way, to avoid the areas where the snow looks too deep for me.
One thing is certain: I won't stop walking my old, Vermont dirt road
Until the road ends.