A Walk Through The Snow

When you walk down the street
Through the new-fallen snow
Do you look at the footprints
You see as you go?
Do you wonder who walked there,
And how long ago?
And whose footprints you see
In the new-fallen snow?

I look at the footprints
And ask—do I know?
Was this one of my neighbors,
With two dogs in tow?
It might, or might not be
My neighbor—and so
I pay closer attention
To tracks in the snow

Was it Cooper, or Penny,
Or Thistle, or Bo?
(I run through the list
Of the dogs that I know)
Was it Annabelle? Bailey?
The footprints won’t show—
I’m a little too late
So it’s lost in the snow

In case there are others
Who walk through the snow
And who notice the footprints
And pawprints below
I try to leave hints
They can see as they go
That will show how I walked
Through the new-fallen snow

In case they keep track
Of my tracks in the snow
I will hop on one foot
Fifteen times in a row
Then I’ll switch to the other
A dozen or so,
Cos it’s fun to leave tracks
In the new-fallen snow

In case someone watches
The way that I go
Down the snow-covered paths
With the street-lights aglow
My serpentine path
Will let anyone know
Someone danced on their way
Through the new-fallen snow!

So… It’s snowing out. The cuttledog and I just went for a walk. There were no footprints, nor pawprints, in the snow we walked through (it is great fun to see cuttledog sniffing his way along the pawprints I can see in the snow, but tonight neither he nor I knew the path of any other dogs, or people). So we did what anyone ought to do, given new-fallen snow that others might be walking through any minute now.

We left art.

I am a big fan of sand castles, whether despite or because of their limited lifespans. Some art, I think, needs to be temporary. Snow art is (at least at this latitude) temporary.

I have always looked at the footprints others have left in the snow, and have tried to figure out how many minutes ahead of me these walkers left these tracks. There are so many variables–the current snowfall rate, the snowfall over the past minutes (or more, or less, depending on the rate of snowfall, of course), the number of people out walking… Near us, there is a neighborhood that is rarely travelled but well lit–the perfect place to leave tracks. Cuttledog and I just got back from leaving an elaborate trail there, with sine waves and spirals, and long segments with just left feet, or just right feet. For previous storms, we have left Morse code messages.

Anyway… do you even notice the footprints of those who have gone before you? Do you leave puzzles in your footprints? Am I (well, and cuttledog) the only one? Let me know!


  1. Kylie S says

    Damnit, no bloody snow here.

    Occasionally I’ll think about putting out some piles of rocks – but you know, snakes.

    Occasionally I’ll think about weaving flowers – but you know, spiders.

    Occasionally I’ll think about walking – but you know, too busy trying to escape the wildlife.

  2. Kylie S says

    Oh, I DID come across a large charcoal message on the footpath by the lake, last summer?


    Big bugger of a thing stretched out well over the sides of a five meter track.

    Rode through it at full speed on a bicycle, with a large stick held vertically, kind of like a lance.

  3. Johnny Vector says

    I expected it to be a retort to “were you there?” But the actuality was just as good. Also puts me in mind of Ed Robertson’s Footprints

    I followed footprints in the snow,
    Never knowing if I was right behind you,
    Looking down no one would know,
    I wasn’t walking hand in hand beside you.

    How he came to write a song about my first marriage I’ll never know, but it’s one of my favorite winter songs.

  4. mck9 says

    Once in college, presented with a pristine snowfall on a gentle slope, I stamped out the words “DIALECTIC MATERIALISM”.

  5. Jyotsana says

    Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved leaving miniature barefoot “footprints” in the snow using the sides of my fists to make the main part of the print and my fingers to poke holes just above to look like toes. Across park benches, picnic tables, the hoods of cars…any flat elevated surface, really. Oftentimes I only give my mini prints three toes, in the hopes that whoever sees them will do a double-take :)

  6. jefferylanam says

    Simon Beck’s Snow Art

    For the past decade, Simon Beck has been decorating the Alps with his stunning mathematical drawings, created by running in snowshoes across freshly laid snow. Each image takes him up to 11 hours to make and covers an area about 100m x 100m, requiring him to travel up to 25 miles as he marks out the pattern.

  7. eidolon says

    On early morning walkies, my canine companion and I look for the tracks of the resident foxes. Small, nearly in a single column they tell of the wanderings of other residents. Then there are the many bird tracks (and mice I suspect) around the feeders. Most are small from finches and juncos but occasionally a jay, dove, or magpie pays a visit as well. It’s just nice to see signs of the wildlife around.

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