A snow day off from work calls for a walk in the woods. I took two today, one in the early morning, just after feeding the animals, when I could look back at a moment of clear sky in the west.
And one in the afternoon when, though a certain gloom had fallen over the woods and the snow was just beginning to assert itself, I couldn’t stay inside. Like a little kid on a day out of school, I put on my boots and hat and headed out again.
I found I wasn’t the only one walking in the woods. The beginning of a snowfall, before it’s deep enough to hide the evidence, offers all kinds of clues to who shares the woods.
Here, in the morning light, are the tracks of a rabbit heading into the brush.
And nearby, the skittery footprints of some little rodent making her way across the path.
Bird feet, two by two, hopping, hopping:
I have to admit, some of us leave less elegant notes on our passing:
But now, sound the doom music, the rumbling kettle drums, the minor chord of danger nearby…
A coyote makes his way uphill through the snow. See the marks of his toenails ahead of the pads. Imagine him moving along the trail he knows so well, sniffing the air…
His tracks run in a straight line, trotting through the woods except for evidence of a moment when he paused… To whiff the scent of prey just missed? To scratch?
Here, a crossroads: rabbit and coyote. Which passed first? The coyote follows the cleared track. The rabbit keeps to the brush except for a half dozen hops to the other side.
just like the bird who crossed here:
The bird has the advantage of flight if caught in the open. It seems that, on this occasion, the two shared ground but not time.
Oh, and back home again, we have Brer Cat, who had emerged from his briar brush to inquire whether meal service had arrived.