The past week at Frank’s Flats, Max and I have encountered winter…the biting cold of it, but also the slushy warmth of winter’s low sun on the horizon. It’s difficult to hold on to just how beautiful it is and how different from the lazy late evenings of summer.
Long shadows cast over the sea of white, where even blades of dried grass become giants stretched out on blue violet snow. Each evening, the colours of things are subject to the sorts of clouds that celebrate the last rays of day and then melt into a pool of cerulean, ultramarine and lavender.
I dawdled at the beginning of our hike last night, snapping photographs of animal prints mostly. Max kept running ahead and then bounding back, trying to distract me from the wonder of the light on the expanse of the pond.
We set out on our hike too late last night and I had left my coyote-stick back at the car. Sure enough, Max became agitated and, picking up a scent, began his fast, snout-to-the-ground zzzzz back and forth and back and forth along the fence. Then, FREEZE! He stood utterly still in his tracks. I stayed utterly still in my tracks. And there, nose to nose, but separated from us by the fence, a large male stared intensely at us. And as if tagged, Max woke from his stillness and barked madly. As the coyote loped away from the fence…two meters…then five…then ten, I couldn’t help but take note of its beauty.
Grateful that he had a healthy thick coat and bright intent eyes and carried lots of weight for the challenges that lie ahead, I shouted out to Max. COME! MAX, COME! Like a bullet, he flew through the snow banks and followed me as I attempted to walk in a steady and calm manner. (I’ve let these animals see my fear before, only to be stalked for long distances by several coyotes.) When Max did his about-face to charge the fence once again, our buddy had already turned himself around to follow us…but with the appearance, once again, of this loud herding monster of mine, the coyote headed into the scrub and disappeared.
My experiences of Frank’s Flats often bring to mind Barbara Kingsolver’s novel, Prodigal Summer, where the reader encounters “three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives inhabiting the forested mountains and struggling small farms of southern Appalachia. At the heart of these intertwined narratives is a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region. A reclusive wildlife biologist, watches the forest from her outpost in an isolated mountain cabin.”
Books like this one remind why I love Frank’s Flats so much and wish to be a steward of this small, but engaging ecosystem.
Tonight, the very same location was bathed in a soft blue light and until the sun set, the landscape flattened out. Truly looking INTO the sky, it has been an every-evening- occurrence to see a hugely animated world of winged figures, flying in close formation, one formation after another and heading in the very same direction…ducks and geese…more and more ducks…making the journey that agitates everything within them. What a truly amazing sight!
Leaving Frank’s Flats, the sky to the west.
Once pulled up to my front drive, she was a pure and bright golden ball in the darkening sky. Tomorrow night sees the December full moon. I wonder what beauty nature will hold for me as I greet another day.
Mothers, tonight, hold your children. They are beautiful. They are your own. You are blessed.