Tracks in the Snow

Soon after breakfast, I suited up in warm clothes and went out to walk in the snow – we don’t often get the chance and I didn’t want to miss it. The snow had stopped, the sun was shining, and a strong, cold wind had almost cleared the soft blue sky of clouds, except for a few small, cottony puffs. Dark gray trunks of trees in the woods stood in pools of frigid shadows all around, rising from a patchwork quilt of white snow and brown leaves on the floor of the woods.

A good many songbirds were scattered around the feeders, in the trees and under the shrubs in the yard. Chipping Sparrows, Brown-headed Nuthatch, White-throated Sparrows, Northern Mockingbird, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker – but I didn’t see the Fox Sparrow again.

The bright colors of a Northern Cardinal and an Eastern Bluebird perched in tall shrubs stood out like vivid, miniature paintings against the white snow and a blur of gray and brown limbs. A half dozen Dark-eyed Juncos flew up like soot-gray flecks of ashes from the ground into a bush as I walked past, twittering their high, sweet calls.

Pine Warbler, Carolina Wren and Northern Cardinal sang, and Tufted Titmice and Carolina Chickadees chattered. From down the road I could hear the conkarees of a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds, and American Robins stood and skittered here and there, foraging in snow-covered yards. Blue Jays cried. And not too far away I could hear the sounds of children’s laughter – out playing in the snow.

As I walked, I could see the tracks of crows, smaller birds, white-tailed deer, rabbits, raccoon, a couple of neighborhood dogs, and other tracks that I couldn’t identify. I think one was a possum. Others might have been the tracks of a fox.

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