Making Tracks

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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.

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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.

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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.

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