Categories
homeMADE tracks & scat

Paw-fect.

I found a pretty perfect coyote paw print in the mud yesterday, and thought I’d have a go at casting it!

2 parts plaster of paris mixed with one part water. I cut the bottom off a plastic ricotta pot to use as a retaining wall for the plaster goop. Carefully poured in the plaster mix, and left it to solidify for 24 hours. I returned this morning to find well preserved wild canid toe beans! I think I’ll mount it by the front door so I can hi-five a coyote whenever I leave the house…

//🦊❓🐺❓🐶❓
FOX, DOG or COYOTE — How can you tell?

Here are 3 tips to help tell whether a single print belongs to a wild canid (fox/coyote) or a domestic dog. (NB There are exceptions to every rule, hence my liberal use of the word “tend”… 😉 )

1 — 🌕🥚 Round vs Oval. Domestic dog prints tend to have a round shape overall, with toes more splayed out. Wild canid toes tend to all point forward, and the overall shape is more oval.

2 — 🗡️🥄Claws. Wild canids tend to have sharper, pointier claws than domestic dogs. They spend less time walking on hard surfaces like pavement and floors.

3 — ✖️🐾 The X Factor. In a wild canid track, because of how the various pads relate to each other, there tends to be an ‘X’ shape through the middle of the print. See if you could draw an X through the print, and not touch any pads.

My ID: I believe this track is the front paw of an eastern coyote. The dimensions are bang on for a coyote’s front paw, ~2.75″x2.5″. Fox would be a little smaller, closer to 2″, even allowing for fuzzy mud measurements, and it lacks the callus ridge I’d expect to see at least a hint of in a clear fox print. Let me know if your eyes see otherwise, and you have a different ID!

I’m really chuffed with how well this first attempt at casting went. You betcha I’ll be trying this again!

Have a great weekend folks! Don’t forget to set aside some time to play in the mud.

~Kate

Categories
tracks & scat

Following Fish…ers

❄️⏳: There’s a lot to love about a snowy winter. For one, it gives everybody a superpower — the ability to look back in time.

❄️📝: Because snow’s crisp white pages note every passing. From the stealthiest critter to the tiniest one, in snow, they all leave their mark. Even when their paws or hooves move in total silence, the snow records it. A fisher went this way, a fox went that. Mice scurried back and forth and back and forth and back and forth under this fallen tree. A weasel wandered along the ridge, and a deer did a u-turn.

❄️📚: It all happens before I get there. But snow is a great storyteller, always ready to share its tales. An otherwise quiet walk is enlivened with a cast of dozens, story after story, chapter after chapter.

👃👀🔍: In other seasons, the stories are often written in invisible ink. One day perhaps I will learn how to read the missing moss, smell the earth more thoroughly, notice crushed grasses, follow gentle tracks left in morning dew.

But for now, in the winter, I’ll revel in the bright bold text of these frozen moments. This peak into the recent past. There are still plenty of mysteries — the snow doesn’t do spoilers — but it’s enough to follow some of the plot, meet some of the characters.

It’s storytime. 💙
//
Wishing you all well in this first chapter of 2023 ❄️

~Kate

Categories
tracks & scat

The callusness of foxes

Telling the difference between canid tracks is hard work, and more than a little tricky. I’ll usually decide tracks belong to a wild member of the dog family, and call it there. I used to be more likely to wade in all confident with an ID, but I’ve learnt the importance of a good dose of humility in tracking. At least for excitable folks like me. Mother nature is wiley. Respect.

There is one surefire tell though. One “definitely-for reals-a-fox” sign that even a tracker playing it safe can feel pretty darn good about.

Fox on our property go through periods when they’re kind enough to leave frequent scent markings, by peeing all over the place. So I can sometimes sniff my way to an ID. (Taking me for a walk involves a lot of pit stops wherever the canids have made… pit stops.) Fox urine has a distinctive skunky/musky smell. And fox in our woods do tend to follow the behavioural cues I’ve read about — fox here tend to tightrope walk on fallen logs, and wander more curiously around the woods. Hopping up on to rocks and dilly dallying all over. Whereas the coyote tend to cut straighter and more focused paths. And the neighbours’ domestic dogs stay on their side of the property line, mostly. (Though every once in awhile our trail camera picks up a very cute beagle sniffing the lens.)

But you can’t always be sure you’re catching the scent at a pitstop, and some fox walk in straight lines, while some coyote might decide to wander. There are big fox and small coyotes, so even print size isn’t necessarily that helpful. Fox and coyote prints are not dramatically different in size, and as the snow melts, even a little, accurate measurements can melt right along with it.

But if you are very lucky, you might come across a print which carries the one definitive sign that its a fox track. And not just a fox, but specifically a red fox (even grey fox apparently don’t have this trait)…

A callus ridge.

On the “interdigital pad”, the fleshy bit between the toes, red fox have a “callus ridge”: a hardened bump that runs horizontally in a sort of chevron shape on their paw.

The other day, I found such a print. Apparently it shows up quite well in mud tracks, but less so in snow. This is only the second time I have happened across a very clear callus ridge in a snow track. I was, to put it mildly, excited.

Squee!

Here’s what all three of my tracking books have to say about the callus ridge. I cite, and use, all three because they often don’t totally agree with each other, and more’s the better when it comes to cross-referencing.

“The red fox track has one good characteristic that is distinctive, if you have a track showing details. The heel pad has a chevron-shaped or straight “bar” protruding from the hair of the foot… In mud, shallow snow, or otherwise a firm surface, this bar may show without the rest of the pad.”

~Peterson Field Guide to Animal Tracks

“On firm snow, a transverse bar across the heel pad of the red fox may obscure the print of the pad.”

~Field Guide to Tracking Animals in Snow

“Red Fox….(d)iffers from other canids by having a ridge of callus on the interdigital pad.”

~Scats and Tracks of the Great Lakes

Though scent-sniffin’ already had me convinced that our woods are full of fox tracks at the moment, I still love a “visual” confirmation. And below, a fluffy fox butt seen by our trail camera a couple of days ago. Pictured/not pictured: the callus ridge.

Walk on, you callused beauty.

~Kate

Categories
birbs fauna tracks & scat

A bird in the bush

A couple of Sundays ago, we went for a tromp around our friends’ woods and fields. Leaving our own big snowshoe prints in the snow, we were surrounded too by the tracks of other critters — canids and deer, rodents and rabbits.

While I was stopped to look closer at something on the ground, I heard a noise behind our friend D. Walking in snowshoes can make quite a racket. Bindings squeak and snow squelches. Not to mention how warm wooly hats can muffle sound. But I was sure this funny little rustle from the brush was something “real”. I turned to look, and heard it again. A rabbit perhaps? Or maybe it was just a branch settling in the snow?

The answer revealed itself a moment later, a brown and buff ruffed grouse flushing from the brush nearby. It flew up and away out from the scraggle of growth, briefly earth brown against the blue sky, before its shape was reabsorbed by the trees at the other end of the field.

I took off my snowshoes so I could scramble into the brush where the little grouse had exited. Seeing the spot in the snow where a bird has taken off or landed is a real treat. That’s what you see in the image below. The trail the grouse forged walking through the deep snow, and then a deeper *fwomp* where it decided it had enough of us, and took off for other pastures.

I am sunk in the snow up to my knees, while the light boned bird only sunk a few inches, before escaping the ground altogether. Its lightweight body isn’t the only reason it stays aloft in the snow though…

Apparently we were not the only ones wearing snowshoes that day, as according to Hinterland Who’s Who:

“The Ruffed Grouse is specially adapted to handle winter weather. Where the snow is deep, soft, and persistent, grouse travel over it with the help of their “snowshoes”—lateral extensions of the scales of the toes. They also burrow into the snow, which keeps them warm and protects them from predators.”

https://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/birds/ruffed-grouse.html

and

Called pectination, the “snowshoes” are a comb-like fringe along the sides of the toes. This increased surface area allows the grouse to stay aloft — accomplishing essentially the same thing as the large, furry feet of snowshoe hares. It also gives them extra grip when they perch on icy branches to eat tree buds. Unlike the shoeshoe hare, however, the grouse grows this special comb each fall and loses it in spring.

https://fmr.org/news/2017/12/27/nature-notes-snowshoeing-grouse

I hang my snowshoes up in the spring too little grouse! We have so much in common.

~Kate

Categories
QoTD tracks & scat

QoTD: Wonder

“… It’s here that I’ve begun to feel wonder again.
Like when I was a kid.
And this makes me deeply happy.
I wish I could say ‘Thank You’, just so, straight into the universe.”

~Never Cry Wolf, 1983 film version.

Categories
tracks & scat

Little feet

Before work this morning, I took a lap of the woods. My thoughts often label a walk like that a “constitutional”. That’s how I think of a walk when I don’t plan to linger, but to clear my head for the rest of the day’s work. Often when I go to the woods, I am happy to fill my mind with new thoughts. But a constitutional is when I am looking to empty it.

I don’t think I’ve heard that word much since childhood, when it was already the language of grandpas, scholars, and other persons sporting leather elbow patches on their jackets, and a smart walking cane. These were people who knew the value of a good constitutional. Keep the joints limber, the air fresh, and the mind open.

My thoughts were definitely elsewhere, my mind open and drifting, when I realized the path I was walking on had fresh prints on it. Fresh prints with five toes!

Perhaps I could let one or two thoughts in… People with leather elbow patches also know the wisdom of not missing out on the present.

I always get a little extra excited when I see prints with five toes, front and back. My heart often wishes to see fishers, or other mustelids. But tracking is all about seeing not what you want to see, but what is there. It’s a good frame of mind to hold on to for the rest of the day.

Most of the tracks were very faint. The ground was “noisy” and there wasn’t much new snow fall. But there was enough to follow for long enough to get a clearer view. My gut had been whispering the tracks were not behaving in a weasely way. And my gut and brain agreed with each other when I came across the clearer tracks. Raccoons walk in a funny gait where their hind feet end up swinging up alongside their front feet. They roll their hips while they walk, so the hind foot leaves a mark beside the opposite front foot. (It’s a fun gait to try and imitate, as a human.) When I came across a set of prints like that, my brain tumbled over to the better ID: I was following raccoon tracks.

These tracks are closer to a gallop than a walk, with the tracks more spread out.

I usually remember raccoon prints best by thinking of the front foot as leaving a mark like a small human hand, and the hind foot as leaving a mark like a small human foot. Not so different you and I, my procyon friend. With your little human-ish tracks, your nimble hands, and your inquisitive nature. Thanks for joining me this morning; I enjoyed following in your footsteps.

~Kate

Categories
fauna tracks & scat

Deer little things

https://soundcloud.com/user-235666142/deer-little-things
Prefer to listen to the story? Click the image above to hear the narrated version of this blog entry.

There is no stop on the tour when you are out for a walk alone in the unmediated woods. No guide raises a colourful umbrella to get your attention. There’s no floating arrow directed at points of interest. No plaques. Just your own eyes and whatever you pay attention to.

When you walk with a companion, you can see with their eyes as well. When Neil and I walk together, there is usually a fair amount of quiet pointing while we chat about other things. An interesting tree, a patch of new blooms, fruits emerging on the mayapples (oh the mayapples…). But no one stops you from walking right past something marvelous. It is up to you to notice. And there’s an awful lot that hides in plain sight. And not all of it is small.

A couple of days ago I was walking the woods alone. I had gone up to the woods to try for a gentle run, and did a walking lap of the woods first. I often end up walking a full lap before running it. It just gets my feet used to where I am. Besides, my head was many places other than where I was. And that is usually a good recipe for a turned ankle. So I did a walking lap to let my thoughts ramble and untangle. But as I neared a large mayapple patch, I doubled back. Had I seen tiny tracks in the dirt? I retraced my steps, crouched down to the ground, and decided… yes! I had. Tiny hoofprints leading into the mayapple patch. Deer. But so small. Was this the right time to be seeing fawn tracks? I wasn’t sure. Would they be big enough to be walking around? I walked on, thinking to myself about how much I love learning to see animals even when they’re not there in front of me. Oh how right and wrong I was…

I finished my first lap of the woods, and began again. As I passed the mayapple patch for a second time, I thought about the unseen deer. And a few metres further on, I *gasp* SAW. Not a hoofprint, not a flash of white tail bouncing away. A little tiny wee baby deer, curled up and resting in the grass right beside me. And I do mean, right beside me. Three feet away, if that. I had gone right past it on my first lap, moments after spotting those prints. Right past it, and it was right here.

Though I had never encountered a baby deer like this before, I knew well enough to leave well enough alone. I took this fast photo with my phone and then I was the one who hightailed it out of there. The best thing I could do for this baby deer was am-scray. Though my best day is one when I see a baby deer, a baby deer’s best day is when it sees no one.

Baby deer (yes I know they’re called fawns but baby deer) can stand and walk shortly after they are born. But they’re not fast enough to keep up with mom, and they also don’t carry the scent that mom has, and which predators might use to find them. So, for the first few weeks of their lives, mom keeps them safe by keeping them away from her. She leaves her babies secreted and alone in various spots during the day, coming back only to nurse them, once every four hours or longer. In this way, baby deer are very similar to baby bunnies, whose moms also protect them by staying away. (Deer and rabbits are also similar in that our handling the babies and leaving our scent on them may cause the mother to reject it. Excellent reason to keep our paws off the wildlife. This is not, by the way, true of baby birds, an idea that is widespread but unfounded.)

At this age, being perfectly still — and wow was that baby ever still — and being perfectly tiny is a fawn’s best defense. A healthy baby deer lying quietly and still and alone is doing exactly what a baby deer is meant to do. Like so many other times, with so many other critters, the best thing I can do to show it I love it… is to walk away. Just because something is still does not mean it is not frightened. Its mom keeps it safe and alive by leaving it alone, and I should do the same.

Is that easy? NOPE. This is your brain, this is your brain on baby deer. Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhh! As I walked quickly away I literally had to hold my hands over my heart to keep it from bursting out of my chest. A baby deer! Heaven! We have spooked fawns in the woods before, been right on top of them with no idea until they suddenly flush from under our feet. But never this. A baby deer at rest. So perfect and perfectly still.

I thought I would finish my walk in a daze, processing what I had seen. In the moment, I had trouble connecting my eyes to my brain. It was a baby deer! It was right there! I was right beside a baby deer! Etc! Seeing them in the wild… it’s difficult to process. A fawn staying perfectly still looks like every photograph or illustration of a deer you’ve ever seen. I ran it over and over in my mind as I walked. Curled up, russet-coloured, big ears, white spots, right there. And oh, no, wait…no…nope.. no way… what is that over there??

I was clear on the other side of the woods when something caught my eye. Much farther away from the trail, but a shape I had just seen, and which I guess my eyes will now always search for — it was another baby deer! You can see it in the photo above. That reddish patch in the centre of this zoom. Thaaaat’s a baby deer. A second baby deer spotted on one walk. If you need me, I’ll be over here holding my exploded heart.

In the first few weeks mother deer “store” sibling fawns separately from each other, so this spotting of a second baby was another good sign that all was well and normal. If there were signs things were not well and normal, well, that is a discussion for another day. My decisions around hard questions are not drawn with hard lines. But in general, if it has a human cause, I will intervene. If not, I will let nature run its own course. I have intervened before, on smaller scales, and cost another critter its dinner. I tread more carefully now around my “help”.

Now did I worry about the baby deer? Yuuup. Of course I did slash do. I know what else is in the woods, why it is so important to be still and quiet and scentless. And, for human concerns, people drive too fast on the roads near here, hunt both in and out of season, and it was not out of the question that mom was not coming back.

I will pause here to say that I do eat meat, including deer, and that I am not opposed to hunting, in principle. Though not hunting done ignorantly, or wastefully. A lot of hunting seems to just be a socially-acceptable reason for men to go sit alone in the woods. Which is just… sad. You shouldn’t feel you need to justify a long walk in the woods with a death. It makes a real mess of things. That said, one bad day in an otherwise wild life is incomparably better than the “lives” of almost all the meat we eat.

I decided to keep an eye on things as lightly and from as far away as possible. I thought about leaving a trail camera, but ours flashes red when it takes a photo and I had seen evidence of it spooking deer before. I certainly didn’t want to be the human cause keeping mom away. So I went up the next day to check as discretely as I could. Baby one, by the trail, had not been moved, but baby two was gone. Which I decided was a half-good sign. Some guides will tell you to be concerned and perhaps intervene if the baby hasn’t been moved in 24 hours. So what about baby one, by the trail? But I asked some wise animal-knowledgeable friends of mine who suggested that it was just as likely that mama deer had simply decided it was a good spot. So I waited another day, and checked again. Sure enough, baby one was gone. No signs of anything gone awry. Just a tiny deer bed, the sign of it already being covered over by the growing woods.

I am so glad to have seen these beautiful babies, and even more glad they have safely moved on. I hope to see one again sometime, though perhaps at a greater distance. Where I could enjoy getting a glimpse of it, and it could enjoy that the human was not quite so close to where it rests until mom returns.

It was good to meet you wee ones. Have a good life, you dear little things.

Categories
tracks & scat

In/visible Animals

https://soundcloud.com/user-235666142/invisible-animals
Prefer to listen to the story? Click the image above to hear the audio version of this blog entry.

“Did you see anything cool?”, asked usually moments after the front door closes, if we hear someone is back home again, after a walk in the woods.

What we’re usually hoping is that the other person caught a glimpse of a wild thing. A critter — fur, feathers, skin or scales — usually being top of the wishlist.

Of course seeing a wild thing is wildly exciting. Seeing a deer or an owl or a porcupine or a fox. We hope for it of course. We like when our stories overlap theirs. When they join us on our walk.

If something four-legged or flighted or slithery crossed our paths, the answer is an enthusiastic and quick “yes!” But the answer is almost never “no”.

The list of what is “cool” one might see in the woods is expansive…. perhaps endless? Fungi and saplings, flowers and insects. Buds and bark. Animate, if possible, not-currently-animate understandable.

Our eyes are still learning how to see here. When we arrived, we could barely tell an oak from an ash. But over the past days and weeks and months and years, we have been studying. We have been learning. Our vision is getting better.

Perhaps what has most changed the character of our walks is our study of signs. Most critters, quite rightly, prefer to give us humans a wide berth. More than once I have only spotted a wild animal because I turn around periodically to “check my six”. On one walk, as I was headed south, I turned around to look behind me, and crossing the woods perpendicular to my path was a coyote, trying to sneak away without my glimpsing. But whether we see them “in person” or not, critters’ comings and goings are recorded in the woods. Sometimes the signs are bold and loud, and sometimes they are barely whispers. They are quiet. Be slow. Look.

I walked the woods today. I saw nothing and everything. On the path up the hill, a bit of white on the ground caught my eye. Looking closer, I saw it was the fur of a dead mouse. And now that I was looking, I saw that what appeared to be a pile of muddy leaves, was in fact two more dead mice.

There are three mice in this photo.

Curious. Nearby, I found this. Mustelid scat.

Weasel poop

Perhaps the mice were from a disturbed mustelid cache? Weasels will kill more than they can eat at once, and store the rest for later. There were some dug up areas nearby. Could it be the mice were either being put in to or taken out of a cache? Or perhaps it was coincidence, and the mice met their end for reasons other than death-by-weasel. Someone intent on reading this particular story could examine the mice to try and determine cause of death — weasels tend to kill by biting the back of the head — but I wasn’t in the mood for necropsy today, so I walked on, content to let it lie at theory.

Baby oak

Sometimes the landscape is added to, sometimes things go missing. Bark nibbled off a branch, berries secreted away. On this particular day, all along the walking path were these little pock marks of popped out acorns. Freed in the sudden thaw, they have been excavated by our local rodent work crew. A squirrel perhaps, or one of the approximately eleventy billion chipmunks here who have awoken from their winter slumbers and are making up for lost time and calories. Scurrying sciuridae.

I’d hoped the soft muddy ground would also yield a print or two. And the woods obliged with one. This little deer hoof, trod mostly on a leaf, but just enough denting the soft ground to be unmistakable. “I was here.”

Though we can learn to see shades of mud, and parse the brown, our other senses come out to play on a walk as well. I walked through two columns of air thick with fox smell. Someone orange and furry had been by, not so long ago… And higher up in the canopy, the bashing sound of woodpeckers, harvesting the spring bugs from the trees.

Canid scat. Likely fox.

And elsewhere, the promise of fungi to come. This bird’s nest fungus, currently “empty nesting”, the spores long ago released, but a tiny reminder that the days of bright luscious fungi are getting ever closer.

So what did I see, on my walk of the woods? Mice, mustelid, sciuridae, fox, and deer… The same place, just not the same time.

“Did you see anything cool?”

Always.

~Kate

Categories
fauna tracks & scat

VIDEO: Tracking Weasels in the Woods

My lovely friends Sevaan and Tess, who do not know each other, periodically give me the ol’ “you should vlog!” Is it so I won’t send them 8 texts in a row about fisher footprints? Who’s to say!

While I’m always happy to yammer on and share my excitement about nature, and in theory I like editing videos, in practice my glitchy ancient copy of iMovie makes editing an exercise in gaaaaaaaaah.

But! Sometimes you just find some tracks in the woods and by gum, you wanna share it! So when I went to the woods a few weeks ago I flipped my phone around and shared some of my ramblies about weaselies. Ironically an unscripted vlog needs more editing, but hey, that is just how fun tracking is! It must be shared!

Have fun out there, you critter-loving woods walkers!

~Kate

(Hi Piper! Hi Lucy! Have fun exploring tracks with your supercool mom and dad!)

Categories
fauna tracks & scat

Snow Stories: Opossum, my possum

https://soundcloud.com/user-235666142/opossum-my-possum
Prefer to listen to the story? Click the image above to hear the narrated version of this blog entry.

I was in the kitchen making dinner a few weeks ago when I heard the front door open and close, as Neil came back inside, having just completed his evening “chicken check”. “There are new tracks out by the raised beds”, he called up the stairs.

Some people enjoy sonnets, some sparkly jewels, but Neil knows the way to my heart is to tell me he has found tracks for me to explore.

Dinner will keep. Final “chicken check” happens right around dusk, and I’ve learnt it’s best to check tracks as soon as possible. Strong winds, a light snowfall, a warm morning… tracks are transient. Best when fresh. And I still had at least a half hour of twilight to use for exploring.

Arriving in the yard, I was delighted to see this serpentine figure tracing a path through the snow. As I’ve already given away in the title, these are opossum tracks and I am very fond of opossums. (Spoiler: I am very fond of nearly every animal.)

Though opossums are increasingly common in southern Ontario, they are not well-suited to our Canadian winters. The exposed skin on their tails, ears, and feet is very susceptible to frostbite. It’s a common reason for opossums to be admitted to Ontario’s wildlife centres over winter. In fact frostbite is so common for opossums in the winter months that it is mentioned as part of their tracks in one of my books, Field Guide to Tracking Animals in Snow: “…the tail drag may sometimes include blood stains–evidence of a ragged and frostbitten tail.”

The distinct five-toed track is the front right foot. The blob just behind it is the back right foot.

During the warmer months, opossums sure pull their weight with another more problematic critter that increasingly shows up in this area: ticks. Opossums both move through areas inhabited by ticks, picking up tonnes of them on their fur, and they fastidiously clean themselves. As part of their grooming, opossums swallow a very high percentage of the ticks that end up on their body. So we’re always very happy to learn these little Lyme-disease roombas are out there hoovering ticks off our property.

It seems these tracks had been made at some point during the day. I’ve read a few places that since opossums do not tolerate cold well, they will sometimes switch their usually nocturnal habits around — foraging during the day instead. Basically they forage whenever makes sense temperature-wise. Opossums do not hibernate, and must continue to find food throughout these cold months.

Alternating track opossum walking prints. This is a slow gait, with the hind foot registering just behind the front foot of the same side (in faster gaits, a hind foot tends to register ahead of the front foot). From the top of this photo, you are seeing the right front foot, with the right hind foot directly behind it — the hind foot is the more indistinct blob. A little further down and to the left of this pair you see the left front foot, with the left hind foot directly behind it. And so on.

Opossums also have a two-print “amble” track, where the hind foot registers beside the opposite front foot. This pattern is not shown in this post, but is similar to a raccoon’s “walk” gait.

If you look at the bottom left of the photo below, you will see that our little omnivorous opossum friend visited our compost bays. It came up the far left side, skirted along the top, and came back down the far right, by the active bay. The compost itself was not particularly disturbed, but it’s possible this little marsupial friend found something to eat off the top.

Below you can see the tracks that run alongside the active compost bay’s wall. The opossum clearly spent a lot of time back-and-forthing in this area, so perhaps it did find some noms after all.

Having followed the tracks as far as I could, I headed back inside for dinner. But there was one sweet little coda to this snow story. On my way back inside, I noticed a second set of tracks “joining” our opossum friend. Walking in parallel to this nocturnal marsupial were tracks from…. a cat. Parallel tracks are unstuck in time: anything that marks the snow becomes part of the same story. With diligence, you can untangle the timeline, and work out what happened when. But sometimes, on your way back inside on a chilly evening, headed to a warm bowl of stew, sometimes it is nice instead to indulge in a fantasy of an opossum and a kitty cat, headed off together on adventures unknown.

~Kate