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Falling on the Ice

While drinking my morning coffee today I could see out the back window a beautiful falling snow beginning to cover the ground. This has been a mild winter so far and I haven’t yet grown tired of snow, so I began to get the itch to go for a walk. I love walking during a snowfall. Two days ago we had sleet, but it had mostly melted and the snow sticking to the ground was pristine and inviting. I turned to Mich my dog and said, “Mich, it looks like a great day for a walk.” His normal reaction would have been to jump up and wag his tail in excitement, but for some reason he seemed hesitant, as if a sense of foreboding had overtaken him. I rubbed the top of his head and said, “Don’t worry Mich, we’re going to have fun.”

At twenty-eight degrees and no wind, I knew it wasn’t too cold to walk, but I wanted to be prepared. It’s better to overdress and take off clothes than be unprepared and shiver the entire time. So I layered on the clothes and after putting on Mich’s dog boots, we were ready to head out. “See you later Honey,” I said as I exited the back door. Julie was her usual cautious self and said, “You two be careful out there.” Having learned a long time ago that just because a thought comes into my head doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to come out of my mouth, I thought, I’m not a child. It isn’t like I haven’t walked through the snow a million times. I said, “We will,” and shut the door behind me.

After crossing the field behind our house, I stepped onto the asphalt trail running around the neighborhood. The instant my foot hit the ground, all manner of chaos ensued. My legs went one way, my head flew the opposite. The leash sailed out of my hand and I was temporarily levitating, approximately four feet in the air. And then gravity took over and I came crashing to the ground. I’ve fallen enough times on the ice to know how to land and stuck out my right hand and twisted my body slightly to brace my fall. My immediate reaction was one of shock, but it didn’t take me long to realize what was happening. I lie on the ground for a moment–the pain shooting through my wrist and elbow and my right hip feeling as if I had just been given a tetanus shot–and watched a car drive by, not even slowing down to see if the old man needed any help. I looked over at Mich, who looked back at me, and reading his mind I heard, I told you this wasn’t going to be fun.

Once I had gathered myself, Mich and I turned around and walked the fifty yards back home and called it a day.

No, I didn’t do that, but instead turned the corner and continued walking. As we gingerly walked along, I thought about my recent experience and determined that there was a sheet of ice underneath the half-inch layer of light snow due to yesterday’s thawing of and refreezing of the sleet. No sooner had I come up with that brilliant deduction than my feet started to come out from under me again. I caught myself and maintained my balance and was convinced that now that I had figured out what was going on and because of numerous other falls on the ice over the years, I wasn’t going to be caught by surprise and was determined not to repeat my folly. Mich looked up at me as we walked and gave me an incredulous stare. He too was having difficulty maintaining his balance and footing.

I then came up with a great idea; “I’ll walk in the grass alongside the trail.” It was a brilliant plan and for a while was working out well, but I soon tired of trudging through the thick grass and returned to the trail. After many false alarms of me catching myself and regaining my balance, I became complacent. After all, I was an expert at walking on ice and seemed to be able to not only anticipate, but prevent any further incidents from occurring.

And then it happened. My feet went one way and my head flew the opposite and as I let go of the leash, I found myself once again levitating four feet in the air and parallel to the ground, if only for a split second. I thought, Oh, crap. I came crashing to the ground in much the same way I had the first time and the pain was excruciating. I lie there for a moment, looking around to ensure no one had seen me fall, and then returned to my feet. I decided to revisit my earlier brilliant plan, and for the duration of our walk the dog and I remained in the grass.

Upon our arrival home, while limping into the house with a sore wrist and stiff back, I turned to Mich and said, “It looked like a great day for a walk.”  Mich didn’t say anything, but instead walked across the room shaking his head in disgust.

Julie looked up from her project and said, “How was your walk?”

I looked at her, trying to mask my pain, and said, “Where’s the Flexeril?”