I’m not complaining. After a long dry, warm fall, someone turned the snow machine on high. For the last month, the snow has been falling, sometimes just a few inches a day, sometimes 8 inches, and, last week, two feet. This week another six inches is covering the already blanketed ground.
When I came to the cabin last week, I had to dig a path from my car to the front door, and one from the back door to the water pump. I cleared the front and back porches, not easy on the back porch because the snow level was even with the porch level, and there was no place for the snow to go.
After I cleared it as best I could and was having lunch, I heard a rumbling from the roof and looked out to see sheets of snow cascading onto the front porch—at least three feet of snow that was now heavy with water content. I managed to clear snow that was blocking the front door before my back and heart started to give out.
But the best part of all that snow is moving through it, sinking into something soft and expansive. It’s like discovering a new way to walk. On Coyote Hill, I snowshoed through fresh powder, an unbroken white expanse—sweat-inducing and heart-pumping but oh so lovely. All around me were the tracks of animals—bobcats (I had seen one run from the backyard when I arrived at the cabin), weasels, rabbits, coyotes, possibly moose (I had spotted a mom and two young along the highway earlier) and what else? It was hard to tell because the deep snow had distorted their prints.
Although I couldn’t see them, I had evidence that they were there—tracks going in every direction—through the willows, on top of the frozen creek, circling in on themselves, bounding down the hill. What was being chased? And what was doing the chasing?
I’m happy to cross tracks with these unknown animals. We inhabit the same space, slog through the same deep snow under the same tall pines. The tracks are a sign of life where there’s not much evidence elsewhere. I hear the jays calling from the trees, and a lone rabbit appeared on the deck after I threw my apple core out there, but nothing else seems to be moving, except for the creeks.
Tahosa and Cabin creeks are smothered in snow, enough that I can’t even hear their songs, but here and there the water breaks through—a blue eye in the middle of white. It gives me hope, because buried underneath all that snow is spring, just biding its time.