alexandra_thorn: 2009, taken by Underwatercolor (Default)
Tom Brown, Jr. has said various things about what you can get out of tracking ranging in flavor from that "to track an animal is to know that animal" to "to track an animal is to be that animal". I haven't put in the necessary "dirt time" to reach anywhere near that level of awareness, but every now and then I catch a glimpse. Tracks are very easy to see in the snow, which makes winter a good reminder of the amount of information that is continually being stored on the earth.

Today and yesterday I had some fun with tracks I'd previously left outside my building at Tufts. Campus is nearly vacant over break, which means that individual tracks stick around longer. Each day I exit the building by the fire escape outside my office. I'm evidently the only one using that route this week, because my tracks at the bottom of the escape are undamaged. Usually I turn left, heading either toward my home or toward the bicycle racks. Yesterday I bore right, heading down toward Boston Avenue for a late lunch. But as I was stepping off of the fire escape yesterday I noticed, mid-stride, my track from the previous day, neatly placed a bit to the left of where I'd just put my foot as I stepped off of the stair. The tread of my "Fluevogg" brand boot is very recognizable. I mentally noted the difference in placement, correlated with the difference in direction, then went on my way, forgetting about the observation.

Today, as I approached the bottom of the fire escape, I again noticed the difference in foot placement between yesterday and the day before. The track on the left pointed more forward than I would have expected, which surprised me a bit. I also noticed a second track from yesterday, the completion of my stride. My stride seemed longer than I would have expected, but I'm out of the habit of noticing. Possibly an indication that I was moving quickly? I also noticed that the second print was almost directly in front of the first, which may indicate a well-centered, efficient gait, but I've previously noticed also seems (unsurprisingly) to correlate with stride-length. For a moment I thought that there was no disturbance to the snow around this second track, but then I noticed a long, shallow streak in the snow, leading up to the track. Certainly the path of my foot descending to the ground. The streak wasn't perfectly straight, either: it wobbled just a little changing trajectory toward a more centered position before moving straight ahead for the last few inches before the placement of my heel. Is this something I always do, something about the direction I was heading, or the result of having been distracted mid-stride by my own track from the day before?

It's hard to know, though when I looked I think I noticed a similar pattern for the track to the left. Perhaps my efforts at developing a well-centered gait have introduced an artificial wobble into my stride? Wondering about this made me feel a bit self-conscious. What would today's track look like? And then, suddenly, the whole thing seemed terribly terribly "meta". There was no way I was going to manage anything like a natural stride as I stepped off of the fire-escape this time. I stood there for a moment, observing the absurdity. Then, in a moment of decisiveness (similar to the moment of decision just before you plunge into very cold water wondering what on earth you're actually doing it), I took off -- perhaps more quickly than necessary -- on a deliberate path to the left.


alexandra_thorn: 2009, taken by Underwatercolor (Default)

February 2015

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