Friday, December 07, 2007


Walking the roads of the Keweenaw in the winter is a unique and singularly challenging experience. During summer months, I can navigate the shoulder of the few roads that have no sidewalks and make good use of what pavement is provided for the pedestrian. In the winter, however, most of the residential sidewalks simply disappear or only the small segments in front of a home are shoveled and the intervening areas become large drifts. Where sidewalks are shoveled, they are rarely salted or sanded, and the footing remains problematic at best. For these reasons, winter walkers, snow-joggers, and a wide variety of disgruntled pedestrians are required to share the road with cars, trucks, buses, and snow plows. Even the shoulders are buried and only occasionally are plowed back all the way to the snow banks. I spend most of my winter playing chicken with on-coming cars and trying to decide where best to dive if a shared-space emergency should arise.

Perhaps the scariest sight is the surprised look on the faces of drivers when they first see me standing there. The fact that I can see the whites of their eyes means they notice me when we are a bit too close for comfort. Walking is an adventure in this winter wonderland, without sidewalks...



I've been out walking at night, for my health,
Counting the miles in the slow falling snow -
A dark shape moving with absolute stealth,
Haunting the highways, where winds gust and blow
Thick clouds of snow dust, a silent white veil
That swirls, cold and stinging, inside my hood -
Creating a world both shadowed and pale,
And leaving small trace of where I just stood.
I'm in the road, for sidewalks are buried
Underneath several feet of deep snow -
Roads plowed enough for cars to be carried,
And leaving me almost no place to go.
A grumbling, snow-covered curmudgeon stalks
A winter wonderland - without sidewalks...

Mick McKellar
December 2007

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