Right around the end of September every year, I get bitten by the bug of inspiration. It generally bites without warning, triggered by some random sentence in a book by Stewart Edward White or James Oliver Curwood, an autumn trip to the Adirondacks of NY, or an old black-and-white video of Swedish clog-makers at work. Symptoms of infection include hours spent researching old, obscure handcraft methods, scouring online used-book sources for lost titles, and gathering materials for wintertime workshop nights (stuff like this). A few years ago, the obsession was Adirondack guideboats. Before that, it was restoring and rehanging old axe heads. The ubiquitous spoon carving. Canoe paddles. Hickory self bows. You get the picture. This malady usually runs its course over the winter, producing a decent pile of gradually-improving handiwork, enough shavings to fuel the basement woodstove on the coldest nights, and a modestly useful store of head knowledge to stick on the shelf until needed. This year, it seems that I have a slight case of snowshoes.
I own a big pair of aluminum trekking snowshoes, and a lightweight pair of running snowshoes for zipping down mountain trails, but I’ve never owned a pair of classic Maine ash-and-rawhide beauties. Hopefully that will be remedied before spring. Before the snow started flying, I took down a modest ash tree and the kids helped split a 20’ section into quarters. Some pint-sized Ojibway snowshoes are in the works right now as a warm-up (and Christmas gift for our youngest), after which I’ll attempt a pair of adult raquettes. At the very least, they’ll look good hanging on the wall. I hope.