The weather’s been warm over the past few days, and the snow’s been melting fast. This morning, though, with below-freezing temperatures overnight, the snowpack was firm enough to support me on snowshoes. I was able to crunch along on the surface without breaking through, stepping over the shallow graves the sun had dug for dark twigs and leaves that had fallen on the snow.
I started out following some coyote tracks that must’ve been made late yesterday afternoon — the pads and claw-marks had only blurred a little. Then as I made my way up the ridgeside through the laurel, I started coming across wild turkey tracks so melted they were barely recognizable. I could just make out the backwards-arrow shapes deeply incised in the snow.
I reached the ridgetop trail and joined two, slightly less melted sets of turkey tracks headed in the same direction. The morning had started out sunny, but now the sky was growing steadily darker, and I hurried to get back before the rain started. I almost missed the pile of turkey feathers in the snow beside the trail. A set of canine tracks intersected with the turkey tracks and headed down over the other side of the ridge, more feathers scattered along the way. Score one for Wile E.
Cold rain began to fall less than a minute later. Striding down the hillside on top of the snow, I felt like I was walking in seven-league boots. I clattered into the house and bent down to unstrap from the snowshoes. When I straightened up again, huge snowflakes were swirling outside.
Now it’s late afternoon, and there’s still snow in the air. A cold front seems to be blowing in. Maybe winter isn’t done with us, after all.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while — or if you’ve ever taken a look at my home page — you’ll know that I feel a special sense of kinship with the porcupine. So I was happy to see the great post on porcupines at Burning Silo last night (see also today’s follow-up post on porcupine quillwork).
There for a while this winter, I wasn’t seeing any sign of porcupines under or around my house. But one night last week, on my way down from my parents’ house, I heard a distinctive chewing sound coming from the pear tree. A large round shape clung to the topmost branches, silhouetted against the sky.