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Backyard Tracking: We Are Not Alone

The heavy snow we had last week erased so many things that I nearly forgot about the other creatures who use our yard even while it’s cold. As I made my way out to the barn today, however, mine weren’t the only tracks in the snow.

There were these tracks, made by a critter with legs just long enough to traverse the yard with its belly dragging in the snow. Each stride is nearly a hop, such a labor to move just a few inches.

Another set of tracks snakes around a bit. Whoever made them had longer limbs. Movement was easy. My guess is a cat.

There were also strange marks at the end of one trail, where the snow was disturbed, scraped up like a scuffled had occurred. There were no other marks leading up to or away from it. I suspect that a hawk or an owl swooped down and carried away the creature in mid-stride. The thought is a bit strange that this place of recreation for me is also deadly serious to others.

When I reached the barn, I looked behind me and saw the large marks my boots had left on the snow. This snow that I soon would track into my kitchen, snow that will melt to puddles and soak into Jan’s socks if I don’t hurry and mop it up.

The gift I took from the garden today was a sense of these impermanent traces we leave through the world.

Posted in • Sitting Still.

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