Wednesday, February 23, 2011
What prompted this outrage? One of Roundtop’s people was not far behind the cabin, heading down the mountain on a snow machine, a red flag on a flexible pole floating overhead behind the seat. Likely, he was off to check a water line that brings water up the mountain to make snow or perhaps one of the pumps involved. No wolves, no aliens, no army. Just a man on a snow machine making tracks down the mountain.
After a snow, everything that happens on the mountain is suddenly visible in the tracks that remain, even if I’m not there to see the event. I know birds, likely juncos, were hopping around within inches of the front of the chicken pen. Roundtop’s resident mouser walked down my driveway, checked the deck for a handout and then went under the cabin. The snow also lets me know what didn’t happen. I know, for example, that neither the raccoons nor the opossum cased the cabin’s perimeter last night. The woods around my cabin are still untracked by them.
Two deer emerged from the forest out of a nearly invisible opening at the edge of the brushy woods, walked out into the open for 20 yards or so and then returned to the woods, probably disappointed they could find no grass to munch on.
Tracks in the snow are like a calling card that tells me what’s going on around the cabin even when I’m not there. I like the certainty that knowledge reveals. Other seasons rarely allow that. A mud puddle may produce a track or two, but rarely a trail. It’s only snow that tells the fuller story, the comings and goings of life around the forest.