Subject: Delicious snow
Date: Dec. 1996
This past Saturday the daughter of one of our friends celebrated her seventh birthday with a big party to which my wife and I also received an invitation. Their daughter decided that she wanted a Hawaiian luau theme so they encouraged everyone to dress accordingly. What fun! And what a great idea for this time of year. I wore my Hawaiian shirt and went barefoot as we arrived at their home, with the outside temp at 35 degrees(F). I ended up as the only barefooted adult, but the kids seemed to appreciate the “authenticity” of my outfit.
Weather forecasts called for snowfall up to 3 or more inches for later in the day and sure enough at about 4 o’clock the big flakes began to fall. Within minutes, as we looked out the windows, the neighborhood began taking on the look of a winter wonderland as a gentle layer of snow started forming on the ground. The kids wanted to go outside to play in the snow but mom and dad nixed the idea. As the party activities had just about finished anyway, my wife and I decided to take the opportunity to go for a walk. We had brought our walking clothes so I changed into my long-johns, hooded sweatshirt and running pants and we headed for the door. “You’re going barefoot??!” asked one of the grandparents who had come from Arizona to help celebrate the birthday. “Oh, he does this all the time,” answered my wife reassuringly.
The snow had just started to accumulate on the tree branches, rooftops and lawns but with the temperature hovering just above freezing and the sidewalk still holding its earlier warmth, the snowfall on the cement walkways kept melting. I love these conditions and they don’t come all that often so I had no intention of missing out on such a glorious opportunity for a walk. My wife and I drove to the wooded trails we usually take. As in town, the grassy areas had a fine layer of snow beginning to form but the dirt trails again held enough warmth to melt the snow falling on them. We kept to the trails and enjoyed a refreshing half hour walk and then returned to our friends’ place for supper.
By Sunday morning the snow had accumulated to about 3 inches but the storm had passed and a clear sky and bright sunshine returned. In the afternoon the temperatures rose into the high 30’s(F) and all the soft snow began melting. Richard Frazine has written about the “delicious barefooting” these conditions provide and I have to agree (usually they come in the spring but in this part of the country a significant snowfall normally melts within a week so they can also occur throughout the winter season).
After lunch I went out barefoot to shovel the driveway. Our next door neighbor, who gets a kick out of seeing me do this, came out at the same time and just stood there in amazement. I have to admit I rather enjoyed that (before joining I’d have just felt self-conscious).
After I cleared the driveway, my wife came out and we drove over to pick up our good friends with whom we often take walks, and we headed back to the trails. The melting snow, crunchy in some places, soft and slushy in others, offered a decidedly “brisk sensation.” The bottoms of my feet coped well with the snow but the tops of my toes seemed less conditioned.
I found that when stepping in snow with a depth of 2 or more inches, the snow that fell back on the top of my feet felt uncomfortably cold and I could only keep going for a short time before my toes registered their complaints by trying to go numb. To compensate for this I tried walking behind one of the others in our foursome and stepping into the footprints he or she created. This way I could step on snow already pressed down and the tops of my feet did not have to get buried in snow. This method worked out quite well. We ended up spending almost two hours outside before returning home.