Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Of the night
This morning we awoke to 10 cm of fresh snow. In addition to re-decorating the trees after Monday’s thaw, the snow provided pure white witness to a hidden, night-time world.
Our resident red fox had come out of the woods, looped around the house and then headed down to the lake, hunting. His track in the snow shows that, at least in the immediate area, he was unsuccessful in his search for an early breakfast.
Not so for the owl. Out in the open, a large splash of wing marks abruptly terminates the tiny footprints of a small rodent, caught exposed in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Sometime after the snow stopped a flock of wild turkeys passed through, leaving their tracks on the road rather than venturing into the deeper snow in the forest.
And the deer – depending on your point of view either beautiful creatures of the forest, loathsome pests, or dinner – spent the dawn hours foraging among the remnants of last summer’s gardens looking for any previously missed morsel of greenery.
Over the day human activity, wind, and more snow obliterated the nocturnal record, but until then we had a tantalizing glimpse of life, and death, in the natural world that we would not get at any other time of the year. Just one more reason why winter is the most magical of seasons.