The best way to get inspiration for writing is to look at the pictures on my camera. Lately, the camera has been empty, save for all the images that get downloaded but never deleted. Then a day will come when suddenly there are many things to photograph and talk about. At this point in winter, it isn't so much the changes in the landscape. That will be coming one day soon. Right now, it's in the level of activity that we see. With the lengthening of the days, we are also seeing more action around us. It's like we are all waking up from that proverbial long winter's nap, and we need to squeeze in as much cold weather fun as possible. Soon it will be over.
Last weekend, our friends John and Ted headed out with skis and pulks, ready to spend a few days in the wilderness. Fortunately, a warm abode awaited them. They had the sleds loaded, but the skiing was a little slow that day. We've had warm-ups and cool-downs, and the conditions vary at times throughout the day. We heard that they had to make some load adjustments as they ventured along, but finally they made it. The favorable temperatures certainly help in times like these. Had it been twenty below and windy, it would have been much harder.
Paul and I were on our way to town yesterday, and on the roadside, I saw a small dark figure, waiting to cross. I wondered if it was a groundhog, making an early appearance. We are not quite through the full "six more weeks of winter" that his relative predicted on February 2. As we approached, I spotted the telltale appendage---his paddle shaped tail. It was a beaver. We pulled over while he contemplated his next move. He really looked exasperated, as he started into the road, then reluctantly turned around and headed back through the swamp from where he had come. We had enough time to snap a photo of his frustrated little self. I could faintly hear him grumbling, "Work to be done, work to be done...." We noticed that the path he took was really a little highway, trodden and packed with evidence of many crossings. Now that we know the location of this secret trail, I'll be sure to keep a sharper eye towards beaver activity. I hope we didn't disrupt his day too much. I think I sometimes know what it feels like to be as busy as a beaver.
Judging by all of the tracks in the snow outside the lodge this morning, lots of other bodies are busy, too. With a fresh dusting to showcase them, I saw tracks from deer, pine marten, squirrel, birds, and even a mouse. Noticeably missing were the wolves. It seems this winter that we are spotting their tracks on a near-daily basis. I guess they went to some other restaurant last night, and gave our deer a reprieve.