Day Three. The instructor greets everyone and gets right to the assignment.

"Today your assignment is to write about a first time experience. How many of you have used snowshoes?"

Not a single hand goes up. "Well we use snowshoes all through the winter here and I happen to have several pairs out on the porch. When this meeting breaks up, you're to select a pair of snow shoes and walk around on the grounds. There will be assistants available to help you if you need them."

"Do we have another option?" someone asks.

The instructor smiles. "It's pretty hard to come up with ideas for first time experiences but yes, you may choose another adventure if you don't want to try the snowshoes. How about a ride on a snow mobile? If you haven't had one, it might be a good first time experience to write about. We have three snow mobiles at the inn and we have experienced drivers who can take you for a ride.

We'll meet back here after supper and share what we've written.

One Winter Day: Day 3

By Sharon (

This instructor is a bit strange. He wanted me to put on those snowshoes and try them out, so that I could write about them. Well, I paid for the class and didn't want to waste the money, so I donned the snowshoes and started tromping about. After stumbling and falling several times, and each time had to be helped up as once I fall I can't arise without help, the instructor realized...Snow Shoes just don't work in desert sand. So then he suggested I try the snowmobile. Well that will teach him a thing or two...The rocks and sand ruined his snowmobile. It will never run again.

One Winter Day: Day 3

By Tom (

As a young lad both of my sisters had piano lessons and we had a piano. The oldest sister was very good and the next one went through the motions, but alas little brother, me was never offered or asked if he were interested in learning the piano. Well for the truth not one word was ever spoken about me playing any musical instrument. But then I guess boys did not do that, the only one I knew who did was Don McAfee and look how he turned out?

Shucks as the class was sort of interesting I again had spent many a day out on my snowshoes and shucks after you race a snowmobile and spends five or six days on one up in Yellowstone, the thought of riding along putt, putt behind some yahoo did not appeal to me. We shucks as I said in the other one, I tried to walk a tight rope and that was another calamity.

When I turned 70, I was still racing motocross and all was well, but the next year after a tough season and another operation I just got tired of traveling so here I was 71 years old and I had a decent season but I had retired from the sport I loved. Now I don’t know about you or some others but silly gifts have always been better, well for the most part than serious ones. On my 72nd birthday I received a violin in a case and ten paid for lessons. Oh she got a kick out of that as I took it out and drew the bow across the strings. It had come from the Pawn shop and I swore it was a fiddle not a violin.

Not to be outdone and to kill some time since I was busting concrete with a sledge and yep, you guessed right, I hit my foot and ‘bustalated’ it. And when I can’t get out and do and work I am one miserable old man. So I call for lessons. “No, I have never played the violin, no I have never played any musical instrument . . . . no I know not one note from the other, but I do know a lady who can hit the high C has a good voice and Yma Sumac had an unbelievable voice.” I was about ready to hang up with this egotistical high pitched voice man on the phone and was ready to hang up until he gave me a date and time, “Tuesday afternoon at two, yes that is fine, the name is Clem, Clem Clod.”

I was changing oil and lubing the old truck when the wife told me I better hurry or I would be late. So I go and walking into the Yokum music store; me in a dirty, torn and stained tee shirt, cargo shorts, a baseball cap and wearing a sandal and with duct tape over the cast on my busted foot.

Well here was this little pot-bellied man, well sort of like Col. Saunders but with a well worn pin striped suit and oh my lord, he had on spats over those old worn out black patent leather, much crack shoes. He began to tell me about the diatonic scale, clefs, half notes, octaves and all of that rigamaroe. I just shook my head, “Heck I don’t want to write music, I want to be able to play a tune on this here fiddle,” I told him.

“That is not a fiddle, red necks and hillbillies play fiddles, musicians play the violin,” he sternly admonished me. I wondered if he were going to hit me with his little white hankie. Well after a half hour or so he showed me how to hold the fiddle, er ah violin and how to sit and insisted that the next time I would be dressed more appropriate. I was getting tired and them little red devils began to run through my head, in and out of my ears, my nose and wherever else. He would tell me a note and I would draw the bow and he would swell up, then show me and then I would try. “No, no Mister Clod Clem, no, no, no,” and he would again show me.

Well I had to go around the corner and get a drink of water which was a major relieve to Col. Saunders and while I was gone a thin older lady with bright orange hair came in and they began to talk. I looked around and turned my back to them and pulled the half pint of Jim Beam from my pocket and drank the whole dang thing. Oh it was strictly for pain and for medicinal purposes as I do not imbibe! They yakked for a few minutes when another man who was tall and skinny vice Col. Saunders came entered the premises. They chatted, all the while pointing at me.

“I am professor Strokeme and Doctor Doozit informed me you are having a problem, so I will teach you for the remainder of the session,” he informed me as he stood like a scare crow in the corn field when there is no wind in the fall of the year. we started and now with a little pain medicine I would intentionally use the wrong strings, playing low when I was supposed to play high and vice versa. After about a half hour he threw up his hands, put his violin in the case and went running out the front door. Me I laughed.

I sat there and since both of them had tuned my fiddle I started humming and sawing a little bit. In a few minutes I could hear, “how dry I am,” and a few other thingys. When someone opened a door to a side room I heard music, light music l liked so I listened and began to try to make noises to go along with it. I began to enjoy the fiddle and just sat there with a stupid grin on my face.

At three minutes before the hour was up Col. Saunders came back and we chatted and he handed me a check for the remaining lessons, plus the one I had just had and asked me never to darken their door again. I went over to Jack’s, had a couple and then went by Marv’s Pawnshop where he made me a good deal on a Banjo and you know what? He threw in seven Banjo lessons at the same music shop?

One Winter Day: Day 3

By Phyllis Ann (

Day three of the Writer's Workshop arrived before I hardly had time to review what I had done on day one and two. I looked out the window of my room onto the front lawn which was covered with about eight inches of snow. I don't think it had stopped since my arrival. I dressed and went down to breakfast. Everyone was chatting and enjoying the warmth of the fire and good food.

The instructor gave us our day three assignment. Snow shoes and snowmobile riding were not my forte, but new experiences they were, so I thought I would choose one.

What would it be? I had watched movies of people on snowshoes, like Eskimos. It didn't look too difficult, just clumsy. I thought it couldn't be too hard, so I bundled up and went out to choose a pair. After having help in putting them on and standing up, I was given a brief lesson on just how you walk in them.

I started off across the powder white snow and into high drifts around the fir trees and into the thicket where I saw "Big Buck" disappear with his friends on my first day at the Inn. I hadn't gone but a few feet into the thicket when I saw Big Buck again. He was staring at me like I was an old friend. "How you doing today, Big Buck, I said." He stared at me with his big brown eyes and pawed the ground with his hoof. "I'll take that for an answer", I said. He continued to look around, and soon came the other three of his troop. They, too, stared at me with their wide brown eyes and plodded around in the snow looking for food. I noticed someone had put a salt block out for them, and they all went over to it and began to enjoy the taste. I walked on a few feet and saw some gray squirrels scamper up a tree, and an Acorn Woodpecker drilling on another tree making quite a racket. I decided the snow shoes weren't all that bad once you got used to them. It sure was better than sinking up to your knees in wet snow or falling into a drift.

I decided to go back to the Inn and see how the others were doing. Several were walking around the lawn trying to get used to them, and off in the distance I could hear the engines of the snow mobiles as they raced around the grounds sending snow into the air like winter fog.

I reached the porch of the Inn, and I sat down on a step after falling once. I got the snow shoes off with assistance from one of the helpers. It took me a minute to get my balance after wearing them for about an hour. It was an experience alright, and not a bad one at that.

It is good to try new things, I thought. Why stagnate and never venture out and learn something new. I decided that it was a worthwhile assignment, although one that I wasn't expecting. I imagined that Big Buck and his friends were still at the salt block, the Woodpecker was probably still pecking, and the gray squirrels were scampering about looking for food. I, on the other hand, was glad to be doing what came natural to me, sitting on the couch in front of the fire enjoying a cup of cocoa.

One Winter Day: Day 3

By Cottage Lady (

Susan was skeptical about trying out snowshoes as the workshop director Frank had suggested. “But it is a beautiful day out,” she thought. A pristine white landscape beckoned outside, lots of white powder stretched throughout the yard and into the pine trees surrounding the property, as well as plentiful bright sunshine. The director was helping participants one by one to get into snowshoes. Susan had put on her warmest slacks and donned her down parka, scarf, hat and gloves. She stepped out on the porch and waited her turn. Frank strapped the shoes on her feet. Susan took one step and immediately flopped down in the snow. He helped her up and guided her by her elbow along for a few steps till she began to get a feel for it.

Susan moved tentatively along on the snowshoes thinking, “I’ll not quickly get the hang of this.” She made her way through the yard and into the trees so she could support herself on their trunks if needed. It was beautiful, peaceful and quiet as she shuffled along. She saw a red male Cardinal, like a bright drop of blood, perched on a snowy bush up ahead and heard his distinctive call to his mate and stood transfixed for a few moments.

Susan thought back to her first time trying to learn to ride a bike and that was only a few years ago. Growing up in the city, she had never learned to ride one and was envious as she watched her children learn to ride with abandon. The same way, she mused, she had never even had a driver’s license until after she was married, due to the city’s public transportation system and the headache of trying to park a car. Susan had tried to learn to ride a bike many years ago, but never really had the time, or the even inclination, to pursue this activity. “I think my sense of balance is rather askew,” she muttered, taking another tumble and using a tree trunk to upright herself. At least she had challenged herself to try in her later years, and finally managed to stay upright on a bike, though she suspected it was not a pretty or very confident sight.

“Challenges,” she thought….at work they had always had these educational sessions where they were taught, “difficulties are not challenges, but opportunities for us to improve our service.” “Hmmm”, she said to herself, “the same old clichés, dished up year after year, dressed up in different language and verbiage.”

Susan was now getting cold and turned to head back to the Inn. “Now which way to I go,” she asked herself….

One Winter Day: Day 3

By susi (

Hmmmm, I am not one to experiment with new experiences that might possibly end up with me and a broken arm or leg, so I decided to try a new experience of my own. I wandered around the small town looking for something that sounded like doing it for the first time would be fun, and I came upon a candle shop that had a sign in the window, "Learn how to make your own candles" and I thought, "WOW! That could be fun and definitely a new experience." So I went thru the door with it's little bell tinkling and stopped, looking around, awestruck at the many different kinds of candles that were here. "Oh my, I'm not sure I could ever learn to make candles that look like these." But, one has to take the first step, so I did. The lady that runs the shop came over to me and asked me how she could help me. I told her that I thought I might like to learn how to make candles and she took me to the back of the shop and there before me was everything I could imagine to make what I hoped would look and burn like a candle. I had spotted some out in front that looked like they had been made with wire or at least with a kind of diamond shape and I asked the lady what they were made of and she said they were beeswax candles. So, I asked if she could teach me to make those and she said, "Of course, they are very easy to make." So, I peeled out of my coat and gloves, and paid her the money and she said, "First, the only supplies you'll need is a sheet of beeswax and a cotton wick about a half inch longer than the sheet. It is a matter of placing the wick at one end of the beeswax sheet and start rolling the sheet around the wick and continue rolling until you reach the other side of the sheet, then pressing the edges down using your own body heat until they are adhered together, trim the wick and you're all set. You have a candle that burns smokeless and you made it all yourself." I must say here that my efforts were mighty and my mistakes were also, but I finally made some very passable candles and I had a most enjoyable time. Marsha, the candle lady, and I had lots of fun, talked the afternoon away and I went away from her store with a sense of accomplishment, relaxed and comfortable, and knowing I had made a new friend. Now, that's an experience worth having!! I think any experience that makes a person happy and satisfied with themselves, be it snowshoeing, skiing, or beeswax candlemaking, is one worth trying for the first time. Who knows? It might turn out to be a lifelong experience. Now looking forward to day four of this workshop to see where I get to go next.

One Winter Day: Day 3

By Norma (

Now isn’t this a kick in the head. The instructor wants us to try out snow shoes for the first time. And I’m exempt! I’ve had my first snow shoes. That was the winter in the west when Daddy glued my old shoes to two tennis racquets he’d collected from the city park where I played as a child. He was always full of fun like that. One day when it snowed he took me out to the sand hills now covered with powdery ice, and we climbed up to a nice sized hill - maybe 5 or 6 feet. (You know how things look bigger when you’re a child.) He held me under my arms at first then let me go! I ran and slid down that hill, finally clacking the two racquet handles together and falling in a soft pile of the white stuff. Of course I cried, he laughed, we hugged, and headed home to brush off the wet sand. Now that’s ingenuity! But I’m not going to wear snow shoes again.

I always dreamed of being in an old movie in Sun Valley, looking out a big window at the skiers and drinking hot buttered rum. No one knows I brought a flask of rum with me - bet I can get some butter from the kitchen, and fire up a microwave. Yeah, that’s my first adventure. Sitting by the fireside with a blanket on my lap watching through those big glass windows at those screwballs falling around on tennis racquets.

One Winter Day: Day 3

By Diana Mercedes (

“This exercise will stretch your thighs and calves,” our assistant, palms outstretched, arms straight, leaned against the rail, one knee bent, the second knee straight. She deepened the bend. I mimicked her and felt the muscles that run down the back of my thigh and calve stretch. It was pleasing at first and then the tautness began to ache.

I had chosen the authentic snowshoes to walk in, the ones that look like tennis rackets. The modern ones just looked like stumpy skis.

We switched legs and I thought I need to exercise more when I get home. I wanted to change my mind now and try the ‘ski’ snowshoes, you didn’t have to do stretching exercises to use them and several of the others were already down the slope and rounding the lake.

“…6 – 7 – 8…” Our assistant slowly, too slowly for me, counted off as we held our position. She was in her 30s, a colorful crocheted beret capped her sunny blond bob. Oh, to be thirty years old again, and know what I know now. I used to try new things all the time. Adventurous things. Snorkeling. The scariest thing was daring to breathe in and trust that you would not suck in a lungful of salt water. Once I put my head under, the silence, the colorful tropical fish swimming dreamily in unison, synchronized like nothing we humans could ever replicate, I relaxed and began to trust the apparatus.

“OK, everybody loose?” I wasn’t sure I was loose, and my neighbor gave me a glance and a half smile that said I was not the only one - not loose. Without waiting for an answer our assistant leaned down and reached for one of the rawhide snowshoes laying in pairs atop the snow.

“This is a bearpaw snowshoe, there are trail snowshoes and bearpaws. As you probably learned in grade school the Eskimos traditionally used snowshoes for hunting and trapping as well as our ancestors who trapped beaver in these very mountains.”

She showed us how to put them on and secure them. “Now, since these are 12 inchers, you don’t have to swing you legs wide, you only have to lift your knees and take longer steps so you’re not stepping on your own shoes,” she smiled a vibrant and healthy Nordic smile and demonstrated for us.”

“When you return, you can leave them at the bottom of the stairs.” Her smiled flashed, ‘class over’ and we were on our own.

“Well, are we up for it?” My neighbor, a bit shaky too, searched my eyes for agreement. “I am if you are.”

I kind of felt like you do when your walkway is icy and every step is thoroughly thought out, before you take it. I began tentatively, raising my knee and extending my leg in an extra long step. “It would be a shame to go through the warm up and chicken out now.” My foot came down and landed solidly.

I thought of how far I had traveled to reach Siena to climb to the top of Mangia Tower on the main piazza. Rick Steves made Tuscany seem so enchanted I set my mind to it. Siena was my favorite of all the hill towns. When I reached the bottom of the steps I stopped. The circular stairs, 400 of them, were just slightly wider than an average human. I began to panic. What if I have to come down? What if I get up there and panic and embarrass myself. I began to think how far I was from home. Why did I come alone?

A young couple came up behind me, I smiled, they greeted me and began the ascent. I stood there. Waiting for some part of me to make a decision. Then it dawned on me how far I had traveled, how long I had planned. Conquering my fear would make a far better story than, “Here is a picture of the tower I was afraid to climb.” It would be a shame to come this far just to chicken out.

I began the ascent, palms sweating. The first time I encountered travelers coming down I realized just how narrow the stone steps were. There were pull outs, like you see on mountain roads to pass slow drivers. We made a game of it, everyone cheerfully making way, it took my mind off my fear.

“Well, which way?” I asked my snowshoe-d companion. She had clear blue intelligent eyes that danced in a friendly way when she smiled. Leaning slightly forward on her snowshoes, she looked rather like she wanted to wish away this element of the writers workshop.

“We don’t have to go far,” I reassured her, “Maybe just walk around the fountain once or twice.” She nodded agreement and off we went, around the fountain a couple of times.

“Around the parking lot a couple of times.” My father put the car in park got out and we changed places. My heart was pounding. The first time behind the wheel. “Put your foot on the brake.” I complied. “Take the gearshift and put it in neutral.” I followed his instructions, slowly and cautiously, like I was dismantling a bomb. I crawled around the empty parking lot successfully. When it was over I was walking on air. “I drove! I drove!”

“Well, I’m still learning new things,” I thought. We wound our way around the fountain. The snowshoes were heavy, I learned letting them drop of their own weight as my foot came down was easier on my legs. Other writers, in pairs or solo populated the grounds like a winter print by Currier and Ives. A feeble sun beamed weakly losing ground to a gathering mist.

It was worth it. Below me the undulating hills of Tuscany stretched green, then blue and purple, vanishing at the edge of the earth. No wonder they used to think the world was flat. Who would ever want to leave this sun kissed heaven. It was late afternoon and the advancing shadows outlined terra cotta roofs below, nestled together aimlessly, as if by accident.

That was an experience I will never forget. Trying new things. I don’t try as many new things as I did when I was younger. Maybe I should.

One Winter Day: Day 3

By Amy (

The instructor after giving me punishment for skating on an official day off made me write all about snow shoes..
How appropriate he thought !!!

Needless to say i didn't think it was appropriate or nice but I did it anyway.
I looked it all up in the dictionary also.

Snowshoes were used hundreds of years ago along with dogs in usa and alaska.
They were used to go over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house at Thanksgiving time in years gone by.

SNOW SHOES HAVE many names.
Galoshes, rubbers, boots , snowshoes and furrythings.
The most common name being boots.

Boots are useful items we wear on our feet in inclemate weather such as rain, snow, sleet and hail.

All kinds of folks wear boots: cowboys, russian dancers, farmers, country western singers, and dancers.
They are worn for hay rides ya hoo!!
They are worn for looking good as in hey good lookin !!
They are worn for fashion statements both country and modern day fashions.
Boots or snowshoes are practical reliable these rubbers never break .I am laughing out loud.

well mr instructor i hope you had a good chuckle out of my post that you gave me for an assignment today. Maybe i taught you a thing or two about snowshoes may hitch your wagon to a star someday but do not forget to wear your boots in the field or you may step in some cowchips.

Year's End 2009 (several authors)

Winter Slide Show

The Day After

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