The pathway to the lake was drifted in places. Pushing through the already made tracks of those who had wandered before me wasn’t all that easy. For those with long legs and strides to match, the trek to the other side of these crusted barriers would be easy. For someone built close to the ground, like me, calf-deep becomes knee deep, and visible foot holes in the drifts are quite useless! Breaking my own trail, while not that easy either, was easier on the legs than trying to fit into what was left behind by others.
I quickly discovered walking off the trail in the uncharted snow was the way to go. Not only that, it showed me some wispy skeletal plant life. Thorn spikes on brown, rounded seed heads of burdock. Exploded seed pods hovering at the top of frozen cattail sentinels. Here and there the bright red, freeze dried rose hips were bobbing on the ends of prickly wild rose bushes. The lake showed life had traversed its perimeter. Coyote tracks mixed with tiny indents where mice and birds had taken advantage of seed that covered the ground from the wind-whipped plants along the frozen water’s edge.
My peripheral vision caught a glimpse of movement. A lone skater clearing the natural ice rink in a sheltered corner. A hockey stick waiting patiently in the drifted snow bank. Man’s best friend barking and running in circles around the human Zamboni. Laughter erupting, carried on the wind until it faded to nothing.
The drifts on the trail gave way to the wind-swept, frozen, earthen floor. The warm weather of recent weeks had softened the dirt to allow rutted tracks to form and freeze to almost perfect shapes. Some filled with little pools of frozen water. Others empty and void of any sign of life other than the steps left behind and the imagination of who would have left them. Poplar leaves laying in wait to rot and return food to the earth. Frozen and still green where they had fallen beside their yellowed and browned speckled tree mates.
I can hear the Canada Geese and I wonder if there is still some open water somewhere on the lake that is enticing them to sing their song from above. They don’t linger long, before moving onward in search of an unfrozen destination as there is nothing here for them.
A brazen Magpie watches me. Cackling it moves closer to the path to see what I am about until a crow, floating on the wind, swings near the trail sending the cheeky magpie off to stalk someone else.
The trail curves towards home. Here the trees are frosted and glistening in the sun. It reminded me of one of my outings from another winter's walk. Bits of fluffy snow floats from their settled spot on the needles. Cones sway in the top branches daring me to stand and gawk at them. They too will be become feed for some bird looking for a bit of sustenance in the continued cold.
Camera . . . hmm, I guess I didn’t really miss having it along.
Author, Photographer, Lover of Life
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