It’s been a few days since it snowed on Gastineau Meadow—long enough for the wind to sculpt sharp-edged scallops at the top of drifts and for animals, wild and domestic, to dimple it with their tracks. Aki isn’t interested in adding her little raccoon-sized paw prints to the mix. To do that would require her to leave the packed trail and plunging into the soft, deep stuff that covers the meadow.
You can almost always tell dog tracks from those left by their wild cousins. The no nonsense wolves and coyotes seem to always walk in a straight line. If their tracks are any indication, dogs are goofballs. They might charge off the trail into deep snow, circle a tree and charge back, leaving a “U” shaped design on the meadow. They might leap and roll and zigzag around. They never pound out a straight track that crosses a human trail and disappears into the woods. Aki and I stop to contemplate such a trail. The little poodle-mix cautiously sniffs a yellow spot on the wolf trail but does not cover it with her own pee.
A few meters away from the wolf trail, we spot the tiny tracks of a mouse or vole that had walked across the south facing side of a snowdrift. Maybe because the sun is throwing cast shadows inside each of the tiny tracks, I find the pocked drift as beautiful as the snow covered Mount Juneau rising like a wall above the meadow.