I took the dog for a walk on a hillside property, just so I could exercise different muscles than I do on my usual flat walks. The wind whips across the trailhead making deep drifts of the snow. I turned back after a few steps to put on my snowshoes. To think I almost put them away last week when the temperatures were in the 70s and the snow was gone. Tch, tch… Never be too quick about switching your closets in Western New York! On Christmas I photographed a forest floor still life. On Easter, it’s snowing.
And the snow is persistent, non-stop. Fluffy and light because the air temperature is in the 20s. As it hits the warm ground, though, it becomes packable… Good snowman-building weather. In many places the roads are warm enough that the snow doesn’t stick… yet it’s up to a foot deep on the fields nearby, even deeper where the wind whips it up into drifts. The robins are flocking to the roads to pick in the gravel and roadside mud for worms.
Sometimes, walking with the dog means seeing more wildlife. She’ll find something to chase and run it right in front of me. I’ve seen many rabbits and squirrels that way – and once she even chased up a great blue heron. Or she’ll hear something calling before I do and pause to listen, causing me to stop and listen, too. That’s how I got started on learning the red-bellied woodpecker call, in fact. On this particular
winter (oops) spring day the only wildlife I saw was Lolli. But there were signs! Fresh tracks in the snow and places where some definite scratching had been going on… I snapped a few photos of the tracks and signs and continued down the hill.
As I walked, I forgot about the turkeys, my attention drawn by leaves bursting out from eager branches, familiar old trees, snow covered picnic tables, birds flying away from the seeps in the trail too fast for me to identify… I reminisced about cookouts and campouts, one campout in particular – a hot, hot summer night. I opted to sleep under the stars rather than inside one of the musty, stuffy tents. One little Girl Scout joined me – and I know she will remember that night the rest of her life. The shooting stars! Wow! I remembered hiking here with a group of kids last spring and hearing peepers. My mind wandered as much as my feet. I barely noticed that the trail had looped around and we had begun our ascent.
When I reached the part where the loop rejoins the approach, the turkey signs reappeared… but in places where they had not been before! All along the way, they had used my snowshoe tracks for their trail.
I didn’t see the turkeys this time, yet we danced. Had it not been for the snow, I might not have known about my dance with them at all.
This time I was aware of the dance because I paid attention to the signs. Makes me wonder how many other dances I’ve had unawares because I didn’t pay attention to the signs.