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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Early Morning

Snow crunching beneath my feet sounds like soldiers marching but I am an army of one armed with wool socks, fluffy coat zipped up over my chin, hat, two pair gloves and one pair of mittens. I only wear one mitten, keeping my right hand free to manipulate my camera. I march forward across the field, no enemy but the cold.  Soon I am joined by the dawn fighting off darkness and cold.

There is no chance to hear sounds other than crunching steps and my own breath blowing warm into my coat with moisture that quickly fogs up my glasses.

I have a destination. I want to stand in the field at the top of the hill to greet the sun as its first rays touch my face.   It's still too dark to enter the woods. Snow covered holes and deadfalls would be far too dangerous for me with my habit of looking everywhere but where my next step is landing.   No, once I get to the right spot, I am content to stand and wait, becoming colder with each  passing moment.  It is not long before I am rewarded with the first rosey glow of day, matching the glow of my chilled cheeks.

I didn't stand there long until my feet decided for me that it was time to start walking.  Turning away from the sunrise I headed into the trees.  Landmarks are different when covered with snow, but it wasn't long before I found the path which would lead me to the animal den.  There were plenty of tracks going the same direction as me.  As well as deer tracks, there several others including a tiny animal not heavy enough to sink into the snow. There was also a heavier small animal whose belly or tail dragged along making its own track between the paw prints. Expectantly, there were also prints from a dog-like animal.  Those veered off the trail the same time I did.

 I followed them right to the den opening.  It was only one of four openings.  I couldn't tell if it was four openings for one den,or maybe four separate dens.

One opening went into the ground at the base of a tree It was a small opening with several tracks leading into in.  This opening was a few feet downhill from a larger opening above, but just a couple feet from an even smaller one.

This smaller opening had no tracks connecting it to the hole beneath the tree but there were several paths leading from both the smaller downhill opening to the larger opening shown in the photo below.  I decided that it was probably two dens each with two "doorways."

There were also a path leading from this large opening leading to the tree.Just beyond this large doorway was another small hole with prints leading both in and out of the hole.

I would love help in identifying who lives in these holes.  I still believe it to be some coyotes.
Whatever was living beneath me chose to stay there, avoiding the ruckes above its home.  I can imagine a couple animals huddled tightly together for warmth as they lie very still hoping that the human clomping above them will quickly leave.
Once back onto the mowed path, I  stopped to listen, hearing the birds awakening as they fluttered from tree to bush to find food. 
There was enough light now to see their silhouettes in the treetops. 
I continued around the woods then along the hill edge and back out into the hay field.   Along the way  was this spot where a deer had dug through the snow in an effort to find something to eat below.  The deer will eat the tiniest seeds, delicately picking them up with their sensitive lips

Upon reaching the field, the world opened up with both space and light. 
Sunlight scattered across the snow treating each flake as its own prism, sparkling with silver, red, blue and every color of the spectrum.  As the light stretched across the plane shadows formed, turning average trees into tall giants. 

Even the power plant was floating in an cheery pink glow proving that beauty may be found anywhere as a jet races overhead, oblivious to the beauty below its luminous wings.


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