January 6, 2010

A Walk in the Woods: Winter Tracks

This week has been gray, but not gloomy, with soft light reflected from ample snow. At times, snowflakes were in the air, gently floating as in a snowglobe. The temperature has been comfortably in the 20s, perfect weather for getting into the woods on my snowshoes. Yesterday was beautiful and still; I kept stopping to listen to the quiet. At a turn in the path, even the faint traffic sounds of the village were blocked and I heard nothing at all, until a crow raucously called, then a faint hum of a distant aircraft. The air smelled fresh and clean, with a faint sweetness. Snow decorated branches and trunks and was patterned with tracks.

Today I took my camera along for the walk. This is the first of two posts on today's photos. We begin with the track of my snowshoes and poles winding through the landscape.

In winter, with snow cover, I become more aware of the busy life of the woods with the clearly visible tracks of deer and other animals crisscrossing the snowy ground. Sometimes, for a short distance, deer follow the path made by skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles, then they turn off into the trees.

I too follow snowmobile trails where they merge with mine.

There are small creatures leaving tracks; this likely that of a rabbit. I've also seen tiny mincing marks, close together, and the pads of coyote.

Not a track, but a swirling pattern, of seeds dropped and scattered, readying themselves for a new growing season.


  1. Hi Altoon,
    Nice photos! I wish I had gotten out today, too!
    The next-to-last set is likely red squirrel. The snowshoe hares we have here have HUGE hind feet -- five inches long and three inches wide in snow.These don't look that big, or different enough from the smaller front feet. (both hop, and their hind feet print in front of the hind feet -- so this animal was headed right to left.) What do you think? Trail width for red squirrels is about 3 and 1/2 inches.
    Red squirrels make a big mess, since they sit and eat and drop the bits. My stepfather's grandmother, when she found such stuff in the attic, called it "squirrel shankin's" -- I haven't heard that old word anywhere else. Everyone else calls a pile a midden, when there's a whole pile of cone scales. Red squirrels make extensive tunnels under the snow.

  2. thanks for the correction, Susan; as you know, I"m not much of a naturalist. It could be red squirrels, not my favorite of creatures because they do indeed make a mess; I've always had cats so that squirrels wouldn't move in to attic and shed.

  3. Oh, on the contrary, I think your photographs show what a keen eye you have -- you notice lots more on your walks than most people ever do. That's one of the reasons why it's fun for me to come and see where you've been.

  4. I have been enjoying your photos immensely. On this post, especially these last three: very Callahanesque. Thanks for bringing some subtle non-urban attention into my daily life.

  5. I'm glad you like my photos, Julie, and I love the Callahan reference, since he did such beautiful images of grasses against snow. His work, and that of others at the Chicago Institute of Design, is a strong influence on my photographic work. I mentioned this group of artists in a previous post: A Walk in the Woods: Human Trace, a Sugar House.

  6. All this snow...I'm spellbound!
    Love the seeds scattered on the ground!

  7. Sophie, I know you'd enjoy a winter woods walk; there are so many seeds scattered on the snow, a visual feast.

  8. Yes, that previous post (which I very much enjoyed)was how I learned of your blog when my friend Linda, of Each Little World, sent it my way. My dad, Arthur, was the one who brought Harry to teach photography at the ID.

  9. Julie, two of your father's photos in the catalog 'Taken by Design' are my favorites in the book: 'Green Building, Red Door' and 'Headlight', especially Headlight, which I think is a great image.