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  • Many cultures have multiple words for that cold, white, yet charming fluff that falls from the sky for half the year, gathering in ways that are so beautiful that we never feel too badly about having to spend hours cleaning it up. I only need one: Wet

    Woe is the man with air vents in his tennis shoes; wonderful they may be during the balmy summers of the Midwest, but miserable is the most fitting description for the sad second when your socks suddenly feel saturated. Chances are that this moment came when you stepped off of the sidewalk and onto the yard-long zone of the street topped with a foot of slush. Perhaps your mind was elsewhere, considering old French film after a return from seeing a certain multi-Oscar winning film?

    Oh, the joy of the cool rush that comes on a cool night when your toes cry out and say, "Woe is the ten of us, for we are drowning!" Stopping to scorn yourself for your error is all the more foolish as the black water rushes into the mesh-topped shoes. Here you are, taking part in a miniature Polar Plunge with no audience and only a wet sock that proves not mettle, but clumsiness. What more, you hear the scrape of the shovel behind you stop and the laugh of a man who's had his share of the lake in his own boot. You have taken part in a right of passage of sorts, a true Wisconsin welcome. Now you, too, are a member of the elite society of winter-proven people, explorers and cartographers of an icy plain, for we track out our paths behind us with footprints.

    Here I am, long an alumnus of the tradition, once again dipped opposite of Achilles in the baptismal waters of a sidewalk-street slush pile.

    I love tennis shoes.
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