When Fate stopped at the gate and sniffed under it, I looked for bobcat tracks. I’d seen this before how the snow was flattened where the bobcat slid under the gate.
The dogs ran ahead of me, making their own tracks, but on the Gulley Bridge, one print was perfectly preserved. The four toes without nails and just the right size.
Over the bridge, Fate ran around a young but thick-needled white pine, sniffing as if she expected to find something.
I followed and saw a bed of dry pine needles, without a drop of snow or ice on them. There were even some reddish-green leaves popping up from the ground. It seemed to be of another season under that pine, all warm and dry. I imagined the bobcat napping there. I looked for scat and tried to catch a scent of anything unusual, but if there was any, Fate had probably already gobbled it up and I couldn’t smell what she did.
As I walked over the stone wall into the woods, the sun was sitting on the hill behind me.
Trees cast long purple shadows on the snow. I tried to rid myself of all the paintings I’d ever seen, of those shadows, no matter how beautiful some of them are. I wanted to see what was in front of me, not have those images superimposed over the landscape.
There were more footprints than I’d seen on my last walk.
Some bunnies, and lots of deer whose trails I walked in. I know the longer the snow lays on the ground the more footprints I’ll see. But tomorrow we’re expecting high winds so there will be a clean slate for my next walk.
When we came to the stream it was narrower because of the ice forming on the edges. Like everything in the woods, the amount and shape of the ice on the stream and little waterfalls are constantly changing.
I stopped at a place where the stream was thin and the ice covering it from one side to the other.
Mesmerized by the flow of water under the ice, I squatted down to get a closer look. At a distance, the stream tinkled softly. But the closer I got, the more of a “clunk” it made. A thick hollow sound like wood on hollow wood.
I told myself I wouldn’t take a video, I just wanted to watch and listen. But then I saw the circle of light. About the size of a nickel, it kept coming back, sometimes just a flash other times lasting a second or two.
I couldn’t resist, it was so persistent. So I took out my phone and made a video of it. Honestly, I think it wanted to be known.
Zinnia was good enough not to step on the ice this time and Fate sat down next to me waiting patiently.
I was cold by the time I got the video I wanted so headed back to the farm.
By now the sun was slipping behind the hill. The long shadows were gone replaced by stripes of yellow light reaching through the trees. Warm and soft, the yellow glistened on the snow.
When I got back to the house I went into Jon’s study where he was writing. I gave him a kiss and told him I loved him. He asked me what I saw on my walk and I told him all about it.
How lucky I feel I said to him that I can walk out the back door and be in the woods. That even on such a short walk there is so much to see.