I’ve just come in from an invigorating walk through the season’s first snow. Even though it is a rather meager amount, just enough to obliterate November’s depressing greyness, I still get a thrill out of tramping through its pristine whiteness. If it were deeper I would be tempted to make snow angels. Sterling, our young standard poodle, found it equally thrilling, as he leapt, bounded and kicked up waves of frothy white. His muzzle was soon encased in the frosty stuff, as he discovered the benefits of eating it.
And with the first snow comes the reminder that we aren’t the only ones inhabiting this vast Quebec wilderness. The fox, who unbeknownst to us likes to include our bird feeder in his rounds, is now fully revealed by his tracks. Similarly the horseshoe hares we never see lurking under the spruce trees, except that is for the one Sterling flushed last week, suddenly become numerous as their tracks crisscross the whiteness in front of us. We only know a moose paid us an overnight visit by the tracks he left behind. Tracks in the snow can also foretell disaster, like the time I saw a wolf track along side that of a deer. Although I didn’t come across the deer carcass, I have come across them at other times, while out skiing the trails in the surrounding forest. Invariably a chill runs down my spine as I glance around to see if there are any watching eyes.
The one track that always makes me smile is that of the otter. His long sliding path through deep snow suggests he is having the time of his life as he slides down an embankment. One time I came across an intermittent sliding pattern through a fresh dusting of snow covering an iced-over lake. In between the slides were a couple of rows of paw tracks. Clearly the animal had been scampering over the ice to gather speed, then off he went sliding over its smooth surface. When he came to a stop he repeated the fun and did this for quite a few times. I would have loved to been there watching, except my presence probably would’ve ended his fun.
These photos are from past winters, but if I come across an interesting set of tracks this winter, I will post the photo.