Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Path Taken: Tracking Signs in Snow

Hello, housecat!

December descended and brought with it frigid temperatures and a thick blanket of snow. It covered my gardening lapses nicely, even if I wasn't quite ready to call it quits. I still maintain I could have planted the tulip bulbs. Instead, they are potted up for spring forcing.

I adore snow. I love the serene whiteness that brings calm to the landscape. I love the way it moves and forms patterns when windblown. The husband and I went for a nice neighborhood stroll, fluffy snow falling down around us. It brings a sense of peace and reminds me that winter can be a time of contemplation.

Snow also provides a canvas for the critters, especially the nocturnal ones. The backyard is a zigzag pattern of rabbit and squirrel tracks stitched back and forth between trees and brush. When it thaws, I'll find deposits of rabbit scat, fertilizing the beds.

A mouse going for a stroll.

We'll also see tracks of less obvious visitors. A mouse hopped his way across the driveway before I shoveled. Someone's house cat has also been out for a prowl. The voles have been active too. As winter progresses, I hold out hope for fox and coyote tracks. I'd rather the predators restore the balance of rodents than me.

Each snowfall I scan for evidence of the small dramas in the predator/prey opera, the daily tasks of survival. What do you find in the snow?

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