The Next Nest

The dogs led me out of The Orphaned Woods into the old pasture now overgrown with low, thin branched bushes, tall grasses, and wildflowers.  Even though the flowers died months ago, their brittle skeletons still stand glistening with frost.

Fate and Zinnia, noses to the ground run patterns in the snow, serpentining the well-worn deer trails.  I walk my boots sideways up the hill, slipping where four feet grip. I see a flicker of movement out of the corner of my eye as the dogs appear then vanish again in the landscape around me.

But I’ve stopped paying attention to them.

Now I’m following the nests.  They’re easy to find in the bare branches because each one is topped with a plug of snow.

It becomes a game, moving from one nest the to next.  I imagine the scene from above,  my footprints creating a line in the snow, going from nest to nest.  Connecting the dots and creating an image that can only be seen from a great distance.

The nests take me to the frozen pond, cover in snow and animal tracks.

The dogs have already found the bones of the deer.  Just the skull with a bit of spine and two legs.  Gray fur spreads over the snow like a threadbare rug.  The rest of the deer has been eaten or carried away.

I find myself recreating the scene, imagining how the deer died, seeing the coyotes scavenge the meat.  I picture the bones I’ve found in the woods, gnawed on by hungry rodents.  Little sculptures that I collect and put on the windowsill.

Then I look up and see another nest.

I wonder if it will survive the winter. I wonder how the snow will melt from it.   Will it evaporate off the top, or soak and drip through the bottom, eventually drying in the sun.  I wonder what kind of bird made the nest.  Will it or its fledgling come back in spring, tidying up with fresh grass and twigs?

Standing still makes me cold.  So I look for the next nest and then the next, following them home.

8 thoughts on “The Next Nest

  1. Love that you are back on the trail, metaphorically with your art and physically with the dogs. Keep going Maria, it’s so fun to go with you. Your view makes my heart lighter.

  2. I love this image, Maria, nest to nest. I often wonder if you find the skeletons of sheep you’ve taken to the wilds for other critters’ use, a practice I find thoughtful. You write so beautifully.

    1. Thank you Doris. I did find the one of Griselle. But mostly, they seem to vanish. It’s probably partly because I don’t go back to look until I know they will be mostly bones. I don’t really want to see them in an in between state. But I am glad to have some of Griselles bones.

  3. You really are quite the writer, Maria! You grabbed me and took me with you to the woods with the dogs. That description of the deer hide scattered like a thread bare rug–beautiful imagery! When I looked up from your words, I felt a bit surprised that I was still in my living room!

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