Wednesday, January 7, 2009

In the Woods

I have been snowshoeing every day, and have been amazed at how different things are from day to day in the woods. The snow changes with the temperature and humitidy, and some days my snowshoes make a lot of noise, and some days I can barely hear a sound (except my pounding heart). The light is always different, some days there is a weak sun peeking through--like yesterday--some days it is blindingly bright, and I need sunglasses, which fog or even FROST over. The sky is as blue as anything you can imagine on those days--like that elusive shade of beach glass we all look for, but almost never find. On far too many days for my comfort, there are grey skies, which do nothing good for my energy or mood, but often bring fresh snow.

Every day, there are stories, written in the snow. A woodpecker hammers away at a dead poplar, leaving a pile of sawdust at the base that makes me look up in search of the mess-maker. In February, the Piliated woodpecker begins to drum on these trees, trying to attract a mate. The sound is a loud and distinctive drumming sound, in a variety of pitches, depending on the tree, and it can be heard for MILES.

Tracks are fun to look for, obviously, and there are lots to be seen. In powder, they aren't all that distinctive, so it's hard sometimes to tell whose trail I'm meeting. Mostly it's deer, squirrels and mice--field mice and jumpers, which leave very different trails. I usually run across a weasel trail as well--fantastic HUNTERS of mice!

Lately, I have seen the tracks of what might be snowshoe rabbits (or perhaps fishers.) We generally don't HAVE rabbits here BECAUSE of the fishers, but I have seen a couple of them over the years.

I often see the trail of the coyote whose territory this is. He was my dog's boyfriend for years--he often sang to her under the window in the moonlight, and I call him "Romeote". The first time he came, he sang on the front steps of the bus where we lived--he, on one side of the door glass, and she on the other!

Yesterday, I took one of my trails I hadn't been on in a few days; it had snowed since then. Twice, Romeote's trail crossed my previous tracks, and both times he MARKED the spot with urine, just as he had when my dog was alive, and hitting the trails with me! She always looked for those spots, and marked them in return, when she found them. I was pleased to see he had greeted me. It helped me to feel she still makes the rounds with me in spirit.