The other day I woke to a lawn blanketed with the first snow of the season. While I enjoy winter’s relief from allergies and bugs, I do not enjoy the return to slippery walking surfaces.
Every winter I slip, I slide and I always fall. Last year’s fall was a doozy. It was the end of the season and I was late for a meeting. I parked my car, hopped around melting snow on the street and hit my stride down the sidewalk. I was almost to my destination when I stepped on a dusting of snow covering a patch of ice. In cartoon fashion, my right foot slid into my left foot causing both feet to fly into the air as I went airborne for a brief moment before gravity brought me back to earth. I landed on my side still holding my coffee mug in my right hand and my briefcase slung over my left shoulder.
Lying sprawled, the first thing I did was right my coffee cup to prevent further spillage. Priorities you know. The second order of business was to look around to see who had witnessed my acrobatics. Seeing no one, I began cataloging my injuries. Head okay. Shoulder sore. Knee definitely hurting. Stupid feet fine.
If I had been in an isolated area I am sure I would have stayed on the ground longer but I was not, so I got up. Dirt, wet and snow clung to my right side. Perfect. It was 8:05 and I needed to get to that meeting. Taking my first cautious step I reverted to standard snow walking practices. Walk like a penguin.
Up here in the north we are taught to avoid winter falls by flexing our knees, pointing our feet out, taking short steps while holding our arms out from our sides for balance. We look absurd but it works. If walking like a penguin is not dignified enough for you then you have another option, just walk as if you were 90 years old. This involves walking with flat feet while stooping forward and taking shuffling steps. Either choice is not pretty but the alternative, walking normally, is chancy.
As I limped like a penguin to my meeting I was envious of all those snow birds who headed south for the winter. Bet they don’t miss walking like a penguin.