Under a clear sky filled with a zillion twinkling stars…so romantic! Earlier this month a friend invited us to join him and a bunch of people on a ciaspolada (snowshoe hike) guided by the light of the full moon and I really, I mean REALLY had second thoughts about going. Who in their right mind goes walking when it’s a face-numbing -3°C/27°F outside? Who? I had a ready list of excuses to gracefully bow out this past Saturday, apart from simply not showing up, but what’s that saying about seizing the day? Dang that Horace. Okay we’re in. We drove to the meeting point at our friend’s restaurant at the top of the mountain (not far from where we live) and there was a gathering of about 30 people already roaring to go.
The lack of snowfall and the moon not rising until much later changed the ciaspolada into a candlelit hike that turned out great, if not better, than the original plan. It took me an hour of careful negotiation on a path that crossed some icy patches but for the most part the only bothersome detail was the cold drying out my eyes. The majority of the group was way ahead of us – conditioned italian hikers are like billy goats – in a race to reach that cauldron of vin brulé at the end of the trail. These guys had someone already there with a blazing fire and snacks to fuel up for the trip back! The return took less time because I knew that there would be an endless supply of this – tripe stew (trippa) – to thaw my frozen limbs. I’m not overly crazy about tripe but this was so good that we finished 3 bowls between the two of us. It had a wonderful flavor of smoked shank and was thick with pieces of meltingly soft tripe that took hardly any effort to chew. Can’t say that I’d walk in subzero weather every weekend but if there’s a hot meal in the deal I could just show up at chow time.