A slow ride through snow-covered pines

There are 400,000 snowmobiles in the entire state of Michigan, so I realize I’m writing to few riders, but hopefully others will hang on for a moment.
We’ve tried to make the third weekend of January our snowmobile outing for the year. Such has been our routine for over 20 years, with participants varying from half dozen to a dozen.
In 2004 and 2005 the fields and forests were bare at the 37,000-acre Hiawatha Sportsman’s Club in Engadine during our reserved weekend, thus we’ve been starved for sledding for two years.
The Club is lined with trails for deer, duck and partridge hunters, making them ideal for snowmobiling, and much safer than the man-made trails the state provides.
This year the weather was ideal. Though the blanket was only a half foot deep, the trails were smooth and lightly traveled. In fact, we were the only group on several of the trails.
Being the oldest of this year’s gang of seven, and the one who knows more of the several miles of trails, I lead. On Saturday, January 21 we took a 7-mile, twisting trail along the Millicoquin River.
The snow from a few days earlier hung heavily on the pine boughs. The temperature was in the high 20s and there was no wind. The sun shone brightly. I hope you can get this picture . . . snow-covered branches, hanging over a narrow trail in the brilliant sunlight, and our creeping along, thoroughly enjoying what nature had provided.
Peaceful. Heartwarming. Comfortable. Soothing. Restful. Rewarding. So very settling to the soul.
We have had other situations like this in our few decades of snowmobiling, but this one brought an especially calming feeling. Maybe it’s an aging thing.
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Now back to my usual, cynical self. I mentioned there are 400,000 snowmobiles in Michigan. A few years ago our taxers in government decided we owners should pay $10 a year for someone to keep designated snowmobile trails groomed.
I never travel them but paid the $10. This year the taxers decided if we could own these sleds, we could pay $25 for grooming.
Let’s see, that brings $10 million into the coffers of the taxers. This year there hasn’t been enough snow in the state to bother firing up the groomers.
So, I want to know where the unused portion of the ten mil go? Whose budget is being increased? Whose palms greased? Whatever? Bet we’ll never know.
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For a long, long time (January 1951-January 1990) Perry Hathaway had a shoe repair shop in Oxford. Perry was, and is, a gentle man, quiet spoken, very accommodating and efficient.
He called the other day and asked if I remembered coming into his shop and asking, ‘Do you think these Florshiem Imperials that I just paid $19.95 for are worth it??
These things cost $150 or more today. Perry said he got out of the business at just the right time, that now shoes, like so many things, are in our throwaway society.
The call stirred some early, Depression days memories of putting cardboard in our shoes, like insoles, to keep the stones from coming through the holes in our soles when we walked all those miles to our country schools.
My older (only) sister reminded me she, too, had cardboard reinforcements in her shoes, but I refuse to believe girls wore holey shoes. She also remembers using newspapers for shoe horns to slip galoshes on.
There was no teasing because all the other kids had holes in their shoes too. Back in the campaign days of Eisenhower for president, a picture of his opponent Adlai Stevenson was circulated with his sole hole showing.
Anyway, bless your soles, holes or not.

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