Snowshoes for a Song . . . Er, Poem

By , April 7, 2011

Earlier in the year, I entered a week’s worth of online contests that the outdoor gear store, REI sponsored. Each day they posted a new photo and asked contestants to write a caption for it. They awarded daily prizes to winners—winter coats, snowboards, and other gear. On one of the days, instead of a photo caption, they asked for a winter haiku.

As it happened, I had a winter haiku rattling around in my head. It came to me one evening as we hiked home on the trail. One of the first winter snowfalls had begun the usual melt and freeze cycle. The trackway of a moose that had followed the trail a few days before turned from sharp hoof prints to pie plate sized, indistinct hollows in the snow. It inspired the following bit of doggerel:

Big Foot haunts these snows
Not the legendary beast—
A moose, going home

“What the heck?” I thought, and entered it in the contest.

I won! For those brief stanzas, they awarded me a pair of MSR Lightning Axis snowshoes!

REI told me that MSR would contact me months ago, but apparently they sent the wrong contact information. That’s all straightened out now. In doing so, I also had an opportunity to find out how I’d won—I never really heard which of the five entries had earned me the snowshoes.

It’s kind of sad that I should receive these snowshoes in April, after winter has passed. There’s little likelihood of a snowshoeing snowfall coming. But then, at our elevation we haven’t seen any real snowshoeing conditions at all. I may have to go up into the mountains to try them out this year.

Submitting a winning haiku is far more gratifying than a successful photo caption. Funny that, as I work at selling my book of short stories, a simple haiku should become my most commercially successful writing to date. Those high tech snowshoes sell for around $240 so, in effect, that haiku has netted me more than Shy Ghosts Dancing has to date.

The snowshoes arrived Tuesday, and they’re really nice. I’m anxious to try them out.

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