By Jenepher Lingelbach
Blue sky and brutal cold,
We showshoe trekked around and over ponds,
Looking, always looking,
For wildlife signs and finding
Tracks of different widths and depths.
From mouse with feet the size of apple seeds
That barely left a print,
To moose tracks so round and deep
Like stove pipes plunging in.
But it was a balsam tree
That held us mesmerized.
Shingles torn from bark,
Puncture wounds and gouges raked in lines,
Dried, curled splinters of wood
And then the hair.
One piece here, another there,
Caught by sunlight,
Seen only if you bent
And turned your head just right.
What does it matter that a bear has marked a tree?
It matters that there’s more to life than you and me.
(from the photographic field guide “Naturally Curious”, written by Mary Holland).
By Tamara Anderson
This prelude begins with dreams of animals.
I wake up, surrounded by a chorus of coyotes.
I listen to the soft sounds of the owls
As they call to each other in a romantic duet.
A dusting of frost coats the landscape.
The concert begins with gentle yellows warming the earth.
Apples glow red in the crisp air where the red squirrels have cached them.
Merlins fly overhead and the wind commences.
Hawks and vultures ride thermals, elevating them into the blue sky.
Monarch butterflies dance in the wind towards tree-lined mountains.
The Darner dragonflies follow them southwest along the waterways.
Blue Jays and crows announce their presence as the animals gather.
Robins sample the purple, red, yellow and orange berries that are ready for harvest.
Caterpillars roll colourful leaves into cocoon sleeping bags.
Young caramel-coloured goldfinches beg for seeds from patient parents.
Chickadees use quiet, acrobatic movements to hunt for bugs in the cedars.
Red maple leaves crunch under my feet.
When the wind blows, orange pine needles fall like snow onto the forest floor.
Along the river, I see osprey heading southwest and a coot dabbling along the shore.
The tiny creatures are preparing for winter too – going deep into the oxygen-rich water.
We are stacking firewood, and then planting trees to continue the cycle.
We pause to snack on wild cranberries that are mildly fermented by the frosts.
Wood smoke sweetens the cold air.
It is time to head home for thanksgiving.
Sparrows sing solos in the gloaming as the sun bathes the fields in orange light.
Toads trill quietly in accompaniment to the approaching evening.
Crickets provide the strings and grasshoppers provide percussion for the night-time orchestra.
Nighthawks soar above feeding deer as twilight sets in with a graceful, musical finale.