Tracks!

December 8, 2010

From Saturday to today, the snow cover has changed a great deal. No, it hasn’t melted much and it hasn’t snowed again. It has gone from an unbroken, undulating blanket of white to a choppy, messy, interesting moonscape of white and blue and purple and gold, (especially as the sun sets) all because of footprints.

Saturday morning, my boots first made a solitary path as I made my round, taking stock of the garden. Throughout the day, our dogs printed and pawed the patio and around the pond. Then in the evening, Dominic, Danny and the Fitz boys totally demolished any semblance of serenity, any tinge of tranquility in the snow. They had a rousing, rowdy snowball fight, pockmarking the lawn.

Today, I see tracks. Damn Rabbit tracks of course, in ample abundance. They are all over the flagstone path, running in all the beds, filled with Damn Rabbit droppings on top of the berm. Good gracious, are they this populous year round too? In the middle of the pin oak bed, there is a congregation of tracks – perhaps wild Damn Rabbit sex in the frozen moonlight? I also see tracks from the mourning doves and bigger tracks, something dog-like and in an area where my dogs cannot reach. Hmmm…. coyote? fox? a neighbor’s dog off its leash?

The Joe Pye Weed is bright green against the snow!

Running in and out of the woodpile are strange tracks and these I cannot identify, cannot find on the web. I’m thinking it’s Francine and Clarence, but these marks seem very large for such little mice. What else can it be?

Near the porch, I notice it is prime icicle weather. When it’s this cold out (12 degrees was the high today and right now it’s 8), the heat from the house melts the snow and the water drips. Then the outside temperature freezes it right back up mid-drip. There is a big fat beauty of an icicle, flat and wide, hanging from the Christmas light extension cord. And mysteriously, there is a crystal-clear “pencil”, broken from the roof above and cradled in the purple clematis vines, rescued from its fall.

More Damn Rabbit tracks in the front, obscured by a flurry of boot marks, the blast of snowballs, the rush of boys. I head around the side and see total obliviation – running feet, splotted snow, a very half-hearted attempt at the beginnings of a snowman, the whir of wings of a snow angel.

The peas peek through the snow, so do the brussel sprouts. The prairie dropseed is smashed by the weight of the snow. Behind the chimney, I see the strange maybe-a-mouse tracks again. They make a sharp U-turn out of the hosta bed and then disappear suddenly – seemingly into thin air. Ah! The site of some garden riddle here! Plucked from the ground by a hawk? Or is this perhaps the tracks of a bird?

I walk down to the hydrangea bed and see those coyote-like tracks again – lots and lots of them. They run along the bed, up to the pond. “Wow,” I think, “We must have quite the pack that meets here at night.” I picture our house, quiet and sleeping, surrounded by these vicious canines, chipping at the ice, feasting on rabbits, howling at the brittle moon. My imagination takes flight with the dozens of tracks. I think of Griffey and Lucky, sometimes whining to go out in the very small (extremely inconvenient) hours of the night. What if they run into this bunch? I mean, really, this is right where they like to …. oh, god. The realization dawns and I laugh at myself.

My large pack of snarling coyotes is nothing but my very own poodle and lhasa apso, trodding their favorite path along the hydrangeas over and over again.

I am really so silly.

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