This tiny dead spruce, flocked by sun sparkled frost stands alone in the meadow, holding my eye away from its still green neighbors, the blue sky, and mountains rising above the spruce forest. Dead among so many living things, the diminutive tree stands like a solstice sacrifice, life given up to the sun so it won’t crash to earth in winter exhaustion.
Nearby run the tracks of a loping wolf and those of its prey, the snow shoe hare. Last weekend’s storm coated trees and meadow ground with thick wet snow that hardened in the following temperature drop. Here, where the Taku winds don’t blow, frost feathers form each night on exposed ice, tree and meadow snow. The frost buildup on stiff snow allows me to ski with ease where I please and forms a parchment upon which the forest creatures write their stories of the night.
I’ve already mentioned the wolf and hare. The hare tracks start in willow thickets and pour out onto the meadow in confused trails. One crisp trail made by a least weasel run straight across open ground, while thick concentrations of mice tracks form two foot thick bands between protective spruce trees.