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These are times of treachery and trauma if you are a runner, walker or simply someone who wants to retrieve your mail.

Mother Nature, who so often uses her powers to renew our souls, has shown her sadistic side over the past few days with what meteorologists euphemistically call a "wintry mix." Wintry mix, my keister. This deluge of rain, snow, sleet, slush, flooding, melting and freezing is nothing short of an all-out assault on our senses, bodies, spirits and collective will to live. Glaciated sidewalks make even the simplest outdoors task bone-threatening.

As you might have gathered, this is my most unfavoritest time of the year. My strategy for dealing with it has been typically German farmer. If it bothers you, ignore it and carry on. Last year this ended with me cracking my head on the ice at the end of Kent Street while out on a run. That not only rattled my brains, but shook up my life philosophy.

I went out and purchases some rubber thingys with spikes on them, which allowed fight Mom Nature standing up. But they shifted and flopped, and took away at least some of the joy I felt on my early-morning jaunts.

In the back of my mind, I remembered a pair of shoes that I saw a few years ago while on a mid-winter vacation in Ashland. I love it up there at all times of the year, but winter is super. Deep snow, bitter winds and a

They were trail running shoes with not only deep-lugged souls, but spikes glinting away amidst the rubber. "Ooo," I thought. "I want those."

But because I try to live a life that puts consumerism in a proper perspective, I left the shoes behind. Besides, I already had blown my wad of fun money on stuff like jolting espressos in the morning, hot chocolate for lunch and warm brandy drinks in the evening.

I walked away from the shoes, but never forgot them.

On Sunday, when the rain was falling and the water glistened on the ice that lurked all around, I want to the Eastbay retail store, and there, on the bottom of the running shoes, was a pair of trail running shoes. Each shoe had 10 spikes embedded in its soul. They were on sale, too. Kismet.

I've worn them twice, and they are fantastic for this time of year, when water and ice conspire together to kill you. I know the trend is toward minimalist footwear for runners, but give me these wicked maximalists. They help me put Ma Nature in her proper place.

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