Last night’s snow added several more inches to what was on the ground already. It’s not all that deep; still less than six inches, but this morning the snow has turned to sleety rain, so any fluffiness is gone, and an icy crust is forming over everything. It looks unbroken on the surface, a smooth expanse of white punctuated only by a few windblown twigs and leaf fragments, but I know what lies beneath.
Yesterday, there were tracks left by someone’s cat that had walked from the neighbor’s junipers to the edge of the yard where the plow had cleared the driveway. It had moved not in a perfect straight line, but made a slight shift to its right, as if it heard something, and might have considered going that way but thought better of it, perhaps wanting to get out of the snow and onto the open asphalt.
Beneath yesterday’s snow, several slightly larger branches had come down in the previous wind. They, too, were mostly covered, with only the tips still showing. Many birds came to inspect them, leaving loops and tangles of sketchy tracks behind. And out back I saw where a gray squirrel had run between two trees.
Over by the feeder in the lilac bush I found a telltale scattering of dark feathers and a patch of crimson snow. My heart sank because I thought perhaps the cat had caught a bird, but on closer inspection, there were no cat tracks close by, no animal pounce mark. It had to be either a Cooper’s or a Sharp-shinned Hawk, both of which are attracted to winter feeders for their prey. That was not so bad. A well-fed cat hunting for sport is not the same as a raptor hunting to preserve its own life.
On this morning's news I heard more snow is on the way, so whatever happens out there today will become another layer soon. Each will be added to the next until the remains of all – feathers, twigs, branches, tracks, everything that happened in the yard – will lie entombed as fossils. Maybe not forever, but for the duration of winter at least.
The Cloud Messenger (Meghadūta) is a lyric poem by the respected Indian poet, Kālidāsa. The poem centers around a yaksa in exile. Longing for his beloved, waiting for him on a Himalayan mountain, he asks a cloud to take a message to her. The sights he tells the cloud it will see on its way make up most of the poem.
The idea of recording observations appeals to me. I thought The Cloud Messenger was the perfect title for a blog about the journey that we all make as we move through our days.
I'm a baby boomer who grew up dancing in the streets of Detroit during the classic Motown years, lived beside the Rocky Mountains for many years, now retired and living (and writing full time) in S. Ontario. I have one blog for rock 'n' roll oldies, and one for nature, poetry and life along the Lake.