Boston lost its mind last week, when it snowed again. My phone buzzed all day with T-Alerts telling me that buses and trains were delayed by weather. I still don't know why this happens. It's only snowed all winter, every winter, for the past 400 years. I'm pretty sure that Precipitation isn't one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but I never have gotten all the way through the Bible. Maybe it's been updated -- Precipitation, Traffic, Banking Fees, and No Signal. I assume Death is still current.

I went to the library, because they had some of my holds in, and secretly, I like walking around in the winter weather.

There's a bunch of candids on YouTube of some of the skaters I've been nosing around rehearsing for a show, and in one of them, right as they finish a number, Stéphane Lambiel decides it's time for a little lie-down. He executes what I can only describe as a good-natured fwomp! flat backwards onto the ice. This is about how I feel about winter. Like him, I am always the one walking around in icy conditions without earmuffs, gloves forgotten in my pocket, with my jacket sleeves jammed halfway up my forearms. I realize there is a certain dearth of molecular motion that many people find uncomfortable, but I have to say, being cold and damp and having snow fall down inside my boots may be annoying sometimes, but has never been anywhere near as alarming as getting second-degree radiation burns that peel disgustingly, having my feet swell until my socks cut off circulation, and nearly passing out of overheating and dehydration, which is only a small selection of what the sun has done to me over the years. I had to move to New England before I had any idea why anyone ever professed to enjoy summer.

I pay attention to footprints in the snow. I get to cheat; I wear a ladies 6 and I have a long stride length for my height, so if I get tired of forging my own path, I can just walk in other people's boot prints. There are a lot of prints from galoshes and Uggs. I get the hiking boots with deep crenelations, but not the rain boots. How can you wear flat rubber soles in ice and snow? They hydroplane. I wear Cuban heels. Came in handy a few nights later, when a bus somehow failed to return from Clarendon Hill and I had to trudge home from Magoun Square. It turns out that you can pull off a hockey stop in Chelsea boots, if you're mad enough to be adamant about it.

My advice is, always walk in the ditch. There's always a groove worn in the snow and ice down in the middle of the sidewalk. Your fellow pedestrians may be morons individually, but in aggregate they're brilliant at being lazy. The collected foot traffic before you has located the route of least effort and stomped it down flat. Try to stick to the part that still sounds crunchy when you step down.

A lot of people drag their feet. I suppose it works; I've never really tried that technique. The scuff marks behind the footprints are as wide as the widest part of the foot when they do that, and it's almost always behind a footprint that's dead-on straight. Not all of them are. Some of them wing outward from center. Mine do, a little; some, especially a lot of the great big men's shoe prints, do a lot. I rarely if ever see any that are pigeon-toed. It's probably easier to correct for that when walking.

Some people skid forward a bit with every step. Those prints have a shorter drag mark that's only as wide as the heel. It's behind every print, in some strings. It's only behind the occasional footprint of mine. Most people walk most of the time in a heel-toe fashion, which is generally how you're supposed to do it. When I'm on a slippery surface, I tend to swing my weight out over my front foot as I put it down, and to do it front first. That way, if I skid, it's only when I push off from the back foot, and then all I do is skate a few inches forward, weight still over my foot.

Some prints have a mini-drift behind them, where someone's back foot swooshed out as they pushed off. People rarely seem to fall from that one. Usually, it's straight back behind a print, with a dig-in right before it, where their toe flicked straight backwards, until the front of the foot faced the ground as it rose. Every once in a while, I see another one where the foot has flicked out slightly sideways, like mine do. On skates, that would push you forward, catching -- I think -- on an inside edge.

I file these things away for later. I'm aware that I'm noticing them now because of confirmation bias, but that doesn't mean they won't be useful.

Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville use salt instead of volcanic grit. This works much better until the windchill gets things down to 14°F or so, at which point nothing is going to help you. I'm annoyed at having to brush salt off of all my shoes, but it's not anywhere near as catastrophic as trying to get pumice smudges out of all my pant cuffs.

The Olympics have seeped into the public consciousness. I have a fox collar that I wear with a white skirted coat when it's not sopping wet all over. I get a lot of comments on it, but this year about half of them have informed me that I look "very Russian". Having been told that I look Russian by a couple of actual Russian ladies, I'm satisfied that this is a compliment. The ex-Soviets in general are accustomed to tolerating things they don't like even the littlest bit, but in my experience, they're also very proud of their country and their people -- to be told you remind them of their in-group is flattering.

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