Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Winter morning walk, tracing steps

A nightly light snowfall covered the sides of the road like airy powder.  Over by the fields, a fox had crossed the road to walk into the forest, with determined steps in a semi-straight line.  Further down the road, another, or the same, fox had followed the road for a while, equally determined to get wherever he or she was going. Suddenly some new tracks showed up on top of the fox tracks for a few yards - a racoon's longer-fingered paws had left irrationally patterned tracks on top of the fox paw prints and then went back down in the wet ditch again.  On the highest point of the road, near the giant oaks standing tall in the forest, squirrels jumped their 4-steps pace across the road, maybe looking for lost acorns on the other side of the road.  And up near the barn, a barncat (not ours) had created a beaded band of small round prints, with five round shapes in each, swirling its way up to the barn on the hill.  Not a mouse or vole track did I see.  Human tracks - mine and some kids', from front doors to school bus doors on the road - ending in nowhere when they got on the bus.  There were one more kind of pattern in the snow - giant salt crystals from the salt truck that were surrounded by melted areas, a perfect square salt crystal, sometimes even double, with a dark halo in the white snow.  It was all telling stories, hinting at things that had happened when nobody else had been looking, silent life on the Sourland Mountain in New Jersey. And then the sun got up and melted the snow away .