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Quiet walk after snowfall can be peaceful moments

By Staff | Feb 21, 2014

So much snow!

So many plans to be changed.

When the next “band of light snowfall moving along the I-95 corridor” comes to the area, think about an untimed walk in a nearby woods. Don’t be hurried. Don’t be a slave to time constraints.

Find a piece of unspoiled land that has a small forest giving it the same unclouded character it’s had for long decades.

There may be a slender trail curving through the oaks, cedars and hemlocks. It might have ledges of limestone outcroppings that have served as hosts for jack o’ lanterns, May apples and fox dens. The stands of hardwood trees and smaller conifers have provided homes for woodpeckers, squirrels and songbirds.

If there is standing water along the way you will walk, then the new-fallen snow could have left you more clues than Sherlock Holmes would need to know what animals made the tracks to its life-preserving liquid.

The snow changes the lives and routines of the animals, the same as it causes cancellations and changes to the plans people have made.

The small birds flit about, seeking any tidbit of food not covered by the blanket of white. Cardinals are a crimson pleasure as they add color to snow-covered branches of the fir trees. Woodpeckers with bobbing red heads hammer their tunes against dead trees whose bark could still hide some form of insect. Finches with feathers of muted purple move about with weed seeds in mind. The gray birds — juncos, chickadees and mockingbirds — now seem colorful against the backdrop of fresh snow.

The small birds are quiet, as if paying deference to the mantle of white now occupying their world.

If there are crows presence, they are less reverential. They call to one another. Any morsel of food, frozen or not, will get their collective attention. Should a hawk be perched silently in a tree left leafless by the change of seasons, he will size up the crows . . . and you . . . and move along to a less fussy woodlot.

As you move ever so slowly along the narrow trail that leads deeper into the trees and shrubs and honeysuckle, simply marvel at the quiet provided you. The fir trees have swatches of white snow and deep green branches. The shrubs are no longer a mundane tan or dappled gray in color. They are white– the royal color of the forest after a snowfall.

The ground is no longer just an uneven jumble of fallen leaves, fallen limbs and remnants of a summer long past. The ground is white, a white that masks its blemishes and cracked mud.

Moving slowly along the little path should lead the human visitor to foot prints in the snow. Could a nut-chasing squirrel have scattered those leaves? Was a fox out from his den and foraging for voles, mice or an unsuspecting rabbit? Raccoons and possums use the daylight hours to earn a meal that might be gone elsewhere when the four-legged opportunists are out at night.

Pay attention. The fallen trees and limestone outcroppings are draped in white, but there could be a small predator or even a raptor aiming at his next meal just in front of you.

There should be some foot prints in the powdery white. Too big for a rabbit? Too small for an owl?

Shapes and sizes seem to change when holding fresh snow. At any rate, white is more “colorful” than the drab browns, made-wet grays and blacks and the bleached tans.

White neatly covers the flaws in the small forest; covers the pressing needs of everyday life in our existence. White seems to slow the speeds of society that we can’t control, much as we would like to.

So, the next time a “dusting” is forecast or “several inches left by an Alberta Clipper” are dumped in six-inch increments, find that little expanse of soothing trees and take advantage of the change of schedule or postponed meeting you are being blessed with by the snow.