Judging by the way she streaks across the crisp snow of this big meadow, Aki doesn’t mind living in the gray. The uniform overcast above provides a flat light for the meadow where a fog patch at the far end provides the only distraction for my the human eye. Stretching out I begin skiing to the now free running stream that drains the land of river otter and beaver.
It’s like cheating, moving over the meadow, each glide carrying me forward an extra six inches. When we last visited the meadow surface was covered with the tracks of predators and prey, the sad deep hoof prints of a struggling deer, it’s following wolf, the clueless snowshoe hare. The daily freeze-thaw cycle of last week softened the evidence of battle and reduced my old ski trail to a rounded wound that winds into a grove of spruce, the track of a giant’s finger across the top of a just frosted cake.
Leaving the meadow I lead Aki through a willow screen to the stream. Without a breath of wind to disturb it, the water course’s surface forms a dark glass reflecting lambs wool clouds and winter bare willows. Someone has dug a vertical two foot deep tunnel that appears to make a 90 degree turn toward to creek. I think river otter club house or escape route.
Up creek water again pours over the little beaver dam but not enough to disturb the almost perfect reflection of their house still insulated by snow.