February 2, 2013

North Cairn: Voluntary solitary in season

(Continued from page 1)

I know they are looking for browse, and though it doesn't seem there is much left, they must be finding some woody stem there, poking through the snow, offering the suggestion of a meal, or enough anyway to bring them back, again and again, to snort beneath the snow or sniff the edges of the brier, searching for more.

Sometimes I even forget that tamped-down snow in some parts of the yard must be attributed to the truly monotonous: me.

The particular pattern of various boots, designed for waterproof protection or deep snow drift occasionally catches me off-guard, and I think I have had a visitor during my absence some afternoon.

Then I remember, no, just me.

This is the more solitary time of year -- for both the deer and for me. Friends tend to draw their line in the snow at the state borders of Michigan and Massachusetts, and I don't expect to see anyone before late February or March -- or later still, if the warm temperatures and siren song of Florida beaches or the thunder of the Kentucky Derby get them going in the opposite direction.

We'll still be here, the dog and I and our attendants, tracking the short returns and the longer stays. The geese have quit the rolling fields for miles around, and my only avian acquaintances have been two owls that swing down low, without sound, to lift me, and a covey of quail that has decided to take up residence in one particular patch of woods.

Everything is transporting, and I transported, here in the quiet, in the woods' shudders of life -- exhalations of air, whispers of animals, the sweep and early song of birds, the draining away of time itself. We are all on the move.

Staff Writer North Cairn can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:



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