It was a beautiful day today, mild enough, with temperatures in the teens, for me to take a snowshoe. The storm earlier in the week brought only a few inches of very fluffy snow, so it wasn't a strenuous walk. The world looked beautifully pristine with the new whites brightening the landscape. It was a fresh canvas for the marks of animal tracks, laid over the pentimento of earlier passings. Deer tracks wandered across the woodland path, curving and crossing.
My snowshoes and pole marked a trail alongside that of a large mammal....
....who I can't identify although I was taught the difference between canine and feline tracks (my mind is a sieve).
What I most enjoyed were the wandering tracks of small mammals, adding another linear element to the landscape, across tree shadows. This animal went into the old sugarhouse, and I could see its tracks leaving on the other side; perhaps it sought shelter there.
The rhythmic line of tracks flows up to the tree, around it, and up and down across the drifts.
Here an elegant curve from rock downwards, and around a small tree. These are lines worthy of Matisse.
Then there are wide tracks made by small mammals; it's possible that because the snow is so soft a wider track is formed.
With the track above and with this, there is a look of a railroad, a highway, as opposed to the thinner lines. It's wonderful to think of the hardiness of all the wild creatures, who make it through bitter winters. The woods come alive with the crisscrossing of many tracks.
I took this photograph a couple of weeks ago, not in the woods, but in front of my house. A mouse headed across the snow to my compost pile, which is behind me. All winter I see small tracks leading to the compost, a feast for winter survivalists. Some come from my shed; as my FedEx driver put it "everyone needs a home". A couple of mornings ago, early, while it was still quite dark, I looked out my kitchen window toward the garden. I saw a large shape on top of the post near the compost pile. It was an owl, waiting for his rodent meal. He noticed me and flew off. I hadn't seen an owl there in several years, so it was exciting; it was also a reminder of how precarious life is for all wild beings, especially in winter.