Temperatures have dropped into the 20s the past three nights. Each morning everything is covered with white, sparkly frost. Early Friday I heard the calls of swans as they passed over the house. I stepped out onto the porch just as they flew over—a flock of about 80. The bright morning sun glistened off their beautiful large wings. I listened to their chatter and watched them until they disappeared over the ridge to the east of the house. It was then that I heard another flock of about the same size coming from the west. They too flew right over my head. These birds pass through Wisconsin en route to or from their summer nesting grounds in the far north, so I only get to see them for a short time, twice a year. Their early spring and late fall migration times are special and exciting for me.
Twice in the same week, I was lucky enough to have a fox cross my path. The first was a beautiful Red fox, which crossed in front of my car on a backcountry road to the town of La Farge. His ears were back, and his long red tail was fluffed out behind him. He appeared to be running from something, as he darted out of the woods, across the road and through a pasture. Someone may have startled him while on a morning walk. Maybe a dog or coyote, or a hunter pursued him.
Just before sun-up, from inside the house, I glimpsed an animal jumping over the small creek behind the shed. I grabbed my trusty binoculars and scanned the area. The grass is tall over there, so I waited to see what might step out into the clearing. I didn't have to wait long to see a fox appear, nose to the ground. I could see at once that this fox was special, and I wanted a closer look. As luck had it, she lingered while I found her in my spotting scope. She was a gray fox—a rare sight indeed. I haven't gotten a good look at one of these secretive foxes in a long time. She wasn't a bushy as the red fox I saw the other day, and her long gray legs made her look like a small coyote. Her ears were lined in yellow-orange, as was her pretty bib or scarf. She stalked the grassy hillside slowly, searching out voles with her shiny black nose. Seeing her was a treat that put a smile on my face.
Late this afternoon, a large white-tailed buck and his beautiful doe stood on the same hillside where I had seen the fox that morning. Though I see the deer nearly every day, I never tire of their graceful presence—pure poetry in motion. I'm grateful to live in a place where I can see animals like the deer and the fox.
The recent cold nights have put a thin layer of ice on the potholes and ponds in the area. The remaining ducks and geese must use the river if they want to sit on open water. Newly built muskrat houses are popping up on the wet marshes like mushrooms. They will keep the sleeping muskrats safe and warm through the cold winter months ahead. These are just a few of the changes going on down nature's trail as we reach mid-November. For many of the wild things, the time of sleep has come—time to dream again of spring.
All art ©2013 Organic Valley