Snow came down thick and fast for an hour yesterday. It was completely melted off the road by this morning, but there was still a nice, soft, light coating on the trail today. Shane joined Bobbie and me on the walk; he was very pleased by how well he was able to manage on the hills and soft, almost greasy surface.
(The family was in a car wreck a few years ago – everyone in the minivan was affected, but Shane got the worst of it. He has pins and plates in his right forearm, left upper arm, and right tibia/fibula, and it’s by some miracle that the doctors were able to save that leg. He has chronic pain and nerve damage and severe weather changes can (has) made him pass out, more than once. So walking the Bluff is a big deal, what with the steep hills and all.)
We entertained ourselves by noting animal tracks in the fresh snow (Deer. Rabbit. Squirrel. Chipmunk. The fox.) and talking about whatever came to mind. They shared the story of their first date – they are so cute together! – and discovered that the nuclear plant at Prairie Island is only a year younger than Shane and I.
After sunrise – a grey event, but interesting all the same because of the light and shadow pattern that the thinner clouds made above Lake Pepin – we walked all the way to the flag near the western overlook. The clouds were reflecting pinkish-orange and the view of the bend in the river was gorgeous as always. On the way back down, we all noticed a peculiar set of tracks.
Have you ever heard of particularly clever animals walking in their own tracks, either to create a false trail for a pursuer or to avoid making more than one trace? I’d only read of it, myself; always figured it was a literary device of some kind. I kid you not, this twelve-to-fifteen foot trail showed two sets of pawprints, the second trace on top of the first. Come to find out that foxes do something called “direct register,” where the hind foot comes down in exactly the same spot as the front.
So even if we haven’t seen him, I guess we know the fox is still living up on the Bluff!