A Walk

Nov-24-2001 Reflecting on mans need to make rules to absolve himself of the necessity of making decisions of his own, of taking responsibility for them, I sigh and wander down the path toward the woods. The sky is threatening one minute, and then the next golden sunshine pours down on me. The color is gone from the leaves; and the trees stand stark and bare against the sky, infinitely diverse in form and purpose. In that diversity I find a harmony that is not possible in the sameness of a stand of identical trees.

Jan-8-2002 The day dawns crisp and clear and I can't wait to get outside. Mutt is eager too; but Katt barely flicks her ears as I put on my coat and gloves. Probably the smartest one of the three of us I think as I open the door for Mutt and myself, leaving Katt napping by the embers from last nights fire.

Outside, the sunlight on the snow is dazzling. Mutt and I head down the path into the woods, snow flying as Mutt bounds first this direction then that, chasing sounds and smells.

I see the vixen I've been watching lately watching him from atop a small mound of rocks and dirt she uses for a den and smile. Last years kits are by her side; and she seems to know he means them no harm although he's easily 5 or 6 times her size. Suddenly Mutt stops as he catches her scent. Dropping into the crouch he uses when stalking something. "Get her, Mutt." I encourage as he looks back toward me. "Go play. I'm in no hurry today."

I can barely contain my laughter as he drops even closer to the ground. Moving one leg at a time so slowly that he seems not to be moving at all. I can almost see a grin on the vixen's face as she watches him out of the corner of her eye, pretending interest in something in the snow, egging Mutt on. Time slows to a crawl as Mutt inches closer and closer, a lop eared, humungous immitation of Katt stalking prey. The kits are getting nervous, and Mutt freezes completely as they disapear into their den. But the vixen remains atop the mound; and Mutt begins inching closer again. Finally I can see the muscles in his hind legs bunching, getting ready to leap. The vixen is ready too, having played this game before. She watches him intently, waiting, enticing in how close she has let him approach. And then he springs toward her, a lumbering elephant compared to her slim quickness. Before he takes two leaps, she is into the trees, pausing to look back at him before seeming to disappear. Mutt stops short at the edge of the woods, knowing the futilitiy of chasing her into them. Returning to the mound, he noses around, closer and closer to the enterance to the den. The vixen emerges from the woods to trot around the edge until Mutt sees her. He inches closer to the den, drawing her farther and farther into the open as she seeks to get him to chase her again and leave the den alone. But this time he is in for a big surprise. Suddenly two of the kits rush out of the den almost under his nose. Startled, Mutt stands up straight then belatedly gives chase. I laugh out loud now. Unable to contain myself as Mutt bounds after first one, then the other of the kits. Nearly as big as their mother now, they can easily outrun him with their short, quick dashes in differant directions; and he soon tires. Laughing so hard I can barely call him to me, I finally stop their play to continue my walk.

Turning back to look before I take the trail into the woods, I see the vixen and her kits not far behind us. Unconcerned at our presence, they are heading toward the place I put corn out for the deer to hunt the mice and small critters that feed on any uneaten corn. Reflecting on how intertwined all life is, I follow the well worn trail into the woods.

Jan-9-2002 As we walk down the meandering path made by ages of wildlife going about their business, a winter wonderland is revealed to me. Only my second winter here, and the first being so busy settling in, the changes in the once familiar woods is amazing. Where once I walked through dense shade, now the woods are flooded with brilliant sunshine. Water drips from the trees as the sun melts the snow; and outcroppings of rock I didn't know were there are covered in dazzling icicles. Beneath the cedars, branches covered with blue berries, years of dropped needles lays brown and dry. Snow covers the ground beneath the bare branches of hickory, elm, walnut, dogwood, and maple. In contrast, the oak leaves rattle dryly on their branchs in the winter wind. Here and there natural brushpiles are covered in snow, tiny tracks coming and going from their shelter. The path is full of deer tracks, and other tracks I don't recognise for sure, paw prints bigger than Katt's and much smaller than Mutts; and I wonder what other animals live in these woods. I've seen racoons and possum and the foxes. I see many squirrel nests in the trees; but the crunching snow beneath our feet frighten them into hiding before I see them. Tufts of green grass stick out of the snow in contrast to the brown of the grass in the cabin clearing; and I wonder why. The creek is covered in ice; but Mutt breaks through it easily and I turn downstream, looking for a place that I can cross. Just above the swimming hole a tiny spring I didn't know was there creates an ice fantasy as it flows over and around the rocks and ferns in the steep stream bank. Fascinated, I stop and stare in wonder. Finally realising that I have stood here long enough to start getting cold, I reluctantly turn back upstream and toward the cabin, saving the search for a way across the stream for another walk.

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This page begun on 03 Feb 2002.       Daydreamer 2002-2004

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