It’s good a deer can’t feel despair


Here we are on the last Saturday in April making deep tracks in 6 inches of new snow. Aki must porpoise to make progress—connecting together a string of leaps that imitate the snow shoe hare or a frisky dolphin. Each leap sends her ears skyward to point in the same direction as her tail.

For the first mile only the tracks of her plunging passage and my post holes of progress mark the snow.  Just past a stream crossing we find recent tracks of a deer. If capable of despair, this hoofed animal must be full of it. A few days ago this forest offered a budding banquet. last night an inadequate shelter, this morning a difficult passage to safety.

L1200620Aki, who ran in front of me until now, drifts casually behind after sniffing the air. Crossing the stream again I notice the zipper pattern of otter tracks fast dissolving on the water’s surface. Only an animal comfortable in and out water in winter could have made such confident passage over weak ice.  Something must have happened to the little dog on one her independent forages into otter country.

This forest and the riverine meadow it borders offers some hospitality for the migrants moving in for the summer.  While watching a Northern Harrier fly across the trail I am startled by a noisy red and orange blur approaching through falling snow.  Apparently realizing that my my red coat was not a mass of columbine flowers, this hungry hummingbird buzzes by my ear then out of site. Another wild thing that can’t welcome winter’s return. What, I wonder out load, could be sustaining such the little nectar feeder then spot what may be the answer—a forest full of blue berry blossoms resisting the weight of new fallen snow.


We all wonder how the hummingbird survives their long migration to our rain forest. An elder in Ketchikan once told me that they ride snuggled in the feathers of north bound geese. She may be right. In the direction from where the hummingbird approached we see Canada geese and a pair of resting swans.


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