Although we did have a handful of days in December that were wild and cold, I have to say that winter hasn’t been bad so far. Of course, we may do some hard time yet before it’s over, but for now what snow we’ve had has been mostly washed away by the winter rain (along with some thunder!) and the piled-up ice on the lake, though still solid enough for foxes, is starting the buckle and shrink.
Over the last couple of days I’ve had some visitors. Yesterday a red fox ventured out on the frozen lake. I glimpsed him just as he disappeared behind an ice ridge, then he must have taken a nap – he didn’t re-emerge for almost 2 hours! I kept checking, hoping to see him jump up again and get his picture taken. Just when I was sure I’d missed him, there he was, patrolling the ice, perhaps hoping to catch an unwary gull, or maybe a fish that a gull had dropped on the ice. I took a couple of quick photos through the window before he disappeared yet again. I was hoping he’d come back one more time, and closer, and I’d try to get better ones, this time from outside. Would he hear me, or see me – and run?
Beneath the birdfeeders in the lilac bush I saw a little brown bunny! It fed for a while on the spilled seed, and then scampered off behind the neighbor’s bushes. I hope it’s a female. I hope she pops out a litter like one did two summers ago. I loved watching the little ones keep out of the rain under the pussy-willow bush I planted, crop dandelions and nibble the baby carrots I’d put out for them. I also had a bird stop by that I didn’t expect to see – a Carolina wren. I guess the birdwatching section of my brain is still set on “Alberta” where there no wren in its right mind would stick around for winter. But here, so much further south, I see from the range map in my field guide that we do have Carolina’s all year ‘round.
Across from the lilac is a small stoop where I deposited a summer planter than I didn’t get emptied before the dirt inside froze. A mourning dove, who may have sensed his time had come, wedged himself between the planter and the siding, and quietly died. I tilted the pot enough to see his undisturbed perfect feathers – they always remind me of clouds and moonlight – and then replaced it. Some scavenger will probably carry him away before long, it’s nature’s way, but for now I won’t move him from the place he chose.
I continued to watch the fox as he wandered to the top of the furthest ice ridge (too distant for my camera) where he curled up for another nap – a small dark dot in the gray-and-white landscape. I kept checking on him as I typed, camera at the ready if he should saunter closer to shore, but after another half-hour, I was startled to look up and find that everything had disappeared behind a veil of fog. Perhaps the fox was still out there, with his bushy tail curled around him, smiling slyly over the sleight of invisibility he’d pulled off.
2 days ago