With the snow comes footprints.
Evidence of animals and their movements that might otherwise be hidden. Maybe not to a tracker, they would know in all seasons. But for me, the snow tells the story of who is visiting the farm when I’m not looking.
I thought about shoveling paths in the barnyard yesterday. But the snow wasn’t so deep that the sheep and donkeys weren’t able to make their own paths.
This morning their movement was evident.
There were clear and well-used trials from the barn to the water and feeders. But there were also less distinguished trails into the back pasture. These weren’t speckled with the dirt the animals trialed out from the pole barn. Less densely packed, they were visible from the sky-blue shadow the depression cast in the snow.
Behind my studio, I saw the tracks of the squirrel that lives in the maple tree.
I followed them from the base of the tree to the missing rocks in my studio’s foundation. Bud followed them too, sniffing at the hole, probably wishing he were just a little smaller so he could surprise the squirrel in her hideaway.
Before she had her leg amputated, long before Bud, Minnie use to crawl through that space and sleep under my studio. Sometimes I’d hear her snoring through the floorboards.
I’ve never heard the squirrel under the floor, but now I know she goes there too.
It was when I got the mail that I saw the cat prints from Route 22, up the driveway, and onto the front porch. Then they turned, went back down the steps and under the porch.
This was one of Flo’s favorite napping spots.
I know there is a feral cat that visits the farm. I’ve seen him from a distance a few times in the years we’ve been here. He comes and goes, wild cat that he is.
In the woods, I looked for more tracks. But maybe all the small animals were burrowing under the snow, because I didn’t see many of them. I did walk in some of the deer tracks, my snow shoes obscuring them.
And then I came upon a spot of deer blood and urine in the snow. I believe it’s a deer because of the footprints around it. And I’ve read that a doe will bleed when she is in heat. I was drawn to the color. The deep red that created a hole in the snow. And the mix of yellow urine with the blood that showed up orange just next to it.
Tomorrow we’re supposed to get more snow. It will fall, covering up the tracks I saw and made myself today. Then I can start all over, looking for new tracks in the snow.