Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Walking on ice

I fell down on the pavement today while walking in the Avenues. I fall down about once a week or so in the winter. I always fall onto my knees and hands. I suppose one day I will break my wrist, but so far so good. Once I took the knees out of a fairly new pair of trousers, and I have ended up with badly bruised knees from time to time also. Mostly my dignity is injured.

When I walk in the winter, especially in the Avenues, I do walk much more slowly that I am able to walk because I try to be careful about this falling thing. Today I was concentrating on the irregular pavement and looking out for sticks or small rocks which can destablize my balance. I did not see the ice until I was kneeling on it.

Today the pavement is mostly clear because it has been warm the past few days. Even the places where people don't clear their walks seemed ok. But this was a shady spot, and it was morning. Probably a thin layer of water froze overnight.

I have found that the north and east sides of the streets tend to get clear faster. I think they get more afternoon sun. And after I fell I started to notice things like the fact that buildings without front yards have wetter pavement because, I think, they also get less sun. The place where I fell today was outside a building that obviously used to be a store ... close to the sidewalk. But later I noticed the same thing outside other similar buildings. Big trees obviously are problems. They cause more pavement buckling, leave more droppings and produce more shade on the walkways. I love big trees, but they do cause problems for winter walkers in the city.

A friend said I should get some of those crampon things you put on your shoes. I have some, but find for city walking they are more dangerous than not. Even right after a snow, there is still a lot of pavement that is pretty open, and the crampons are very destabilizing on unless I am walking on a decent sized layer of snow. On a day like today where there really was no snow or thick ice on the pavement, they would have been terrible to try to walk on. I wouldn't have even considered doing it. And I don't think they would have protected me from the black ice.

So I will just go back to trying to walk mindfully. Too bad that means that my eyes are always on the pavement and not looking up to the sky. But there is a lot to notice on the ground too. Quite interesting if I let it be so.

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