It's an Otter's Life

The possibility of a March blizzard that I mentioned last month ended up to be an April one....actually two. On Sunday, April 6, Greg measured a total of eighteen inches of new snowfall. The following Friday, April 11, we got five more inches. Naturally we ask ourselves, where was this in February? Nonetheless, we are always happy for the added moisture. This meant that we were still in the firm grip of winter, and so there was still time for snow-related activities. Here is an account of one of Greg's recent adventures:

We have a neighbor down the lake whom I've known for 35 years. We were young teenagers when we first met, at a homeowners' picnic. John challenged me to a rock skipping contest within four minutes of being introduced. In the winter, we would go sledding, climbing the steepest and longest hills that we could find, and then racing to the bottom. We'd do this over and over, trying to run the other off the trail. It was always the same with skiing, too, and sledding behind pick-up trucks.

John is always game for an adventure, and one day last week, he asked if I wanted to take the snow machines out for an evening ride through the 18" of wet snow that had just fallen. I agreed, and after two hours of riding and exploring, we found ourselves standing on the Enzenhauer Bridge. We washed down some cashews with winter ale, while watching an otter work its way toward us. The river was mostly frozen over, but there were plenty of holes where you could see the dark water rushing past. The otter ran a little, then tobboganned on its belly toward one of the holes, and slid smoothly into the current. He popped up at the next hole, periscoped his head in our direction, slid over to another hole, and down into the water again. His sleek body briefly passed through the hole right beneath us. We moved to the other side of the bridge in time to see him climb out and make his way to the next hole, and on and on until he was out of sight down river.

It's something otters seem to really enjoy. I have seen their tracks while grooming ski trails: a few footprints on the level, then sliding tracks all the way down and around some of the switchbacks on the West End Trail. Another time I watched as two otters trudged up a bank on Lanktree Lake, slid down, trudged up, slid down, again and again, like kids on a playground slide.

John would probably tell you that an otter's outlook on life is a good thing to aspire to.