Breaking Trail

Reader Contribution by Bethann Weick
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Our shed is the keeper of the seasons: it holds a whole year within its four walls. The tools of warmer weather, the window screens of summer, the extra ball jars for canning time, seasonal clothes, odds & ends of lumber, a chimney brush. The detritus of projects and the components of dreams lay tucked alongside each other in a delicate, tetris-like, storage system.

There are also skis (for Ryan.) And snowshoes (for me).

About mid-December, I took my snowshoes out of the shed. They had been neatly stored under an extra bench, collecting dust and some sawdust and sand that traveled with wind and time.

The first real snowstorm had left almost a foot of powder on the ground: it was time to break trail. A trail from the shed to the cabin, from the cabin to the woodpile, to the compost pile, to the outdoor thermometer on the north side of the apple tree, to the privy… a few laps to each had the snow tamped down. They were now walkable, without snow finding its way up our pant legs or into the tops of our boots.

The real trail to break, though, was from the cabin out to the town road. A little more than 1/3 of a mile, this is the commute that begins and ends any trip away from home. The quality of this path will be a work in progress from now until mud season, changing every day with the weather, our usage, and the footsteps of winter walkers and cabin visitors.

So Ryan and I headed out together, a two-person caravan on snowshoes. Though Ryan vastly prefers skis to his ‘slowshoes,’ his skis prefer a broken trail. So instead of shoveling a walkway or plowing a driveway, we walk.

As the days unfold, trails through the woods are etched beneath the trees. A walk to the swimming hole and to the falls, along the northern property line, past the mill, along the eastern end of the river… with Mica dashing hither and thither, we fluff powder into a treadway. Yet day to day, week to week, these snowy carvings morph as snow falls or melts, as temperatures freeze hard or thaw, as humidity rises or falls. They are an endlessly renewed sketch on our nook within the hills, the history of our daily travels and traverses.

Start planning your spring plantings now! Contact Beth via to design your herb garden, vegetable plantings, or small orchard.

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