Swapping stories with other people is one of the best ways to get a conversion going. For example, mention how beautiful the bluebirds are, the ones who are nesting in the new bluebird house you put up last spring. Everyone likes to talk about bluebirds and you will no doubt hear a story in return. Two stories may lead to 3 or 4 more stories.
Most everyone likes to talk about wildlife, it's something we all have in common. In fact, nothing could be more natural than to share our outdoor experiences with each other.
There have been many folks with stories of having seen an eagle, wolf or even a bear. These are the stories that they will remember for a lifetime and will stay fresh in their minds and stories.
Each year I hear 2 or 3 stories from someone who heard or seen the tracks of a mountain lion. These big cats are rarely ever seen but they "have" been seen. Mountain lions, also known as panthers, cougars or pumas, once called most of North America their home. Today, there are places where they can survive, mostly west of the Rocky Mountains and a few of the deep southern states.
I have lived my whole life here in Wisconsin and have never been lucky enough to see one. When walking, I always go out of my way to check out a set of tracks in the dirt or snow. Only one time, 20 winters ago, did I see a set of tracks in a snow covered marsh, which I thought were a large cat. The tracks were about 4 inches across and showed up perfectly in the fresh wet snow. The four front pads showed no signs of a claw or nail. I remember I didn't follow that set of tracks.
The other day a good friend told me of finding the tracks of a big cat which were on her favorite hiking trail. She described the tracks to a tee and it sounds good to me but of course, seeing is believing. She asked me what they eat and where might she expect to see one.
If she is lucky enough to see one, it may be in the headlights. I think they are most active at night as they hunt for small mammals and deer. These big cats have no problem catching white-tailed deer and these days, Wisconsin has lots of deer. I wouldn't be surprised if stories of big cats become more common in the future.
Altogether, it's been a nice slow change from autumn to winter. The change has been gradual and the cold doesn't hurt quite as much as it did a month ago. It's been cold enough to freeze the ground a few inches down. Time to throw another log on the fire and another quilt on the bed.
There "are" things I like when the weather gets cold. You may ask, what on earth could I like about the cold? Well, most are simple things I would miss if I could never do them again. I really would miss backing up close to the wood stove on a frosty morning. I also like to fill a hot water bottle and leave it between the sheets an hour or so before I go to bed. That makes me "purr" every time.
Sweeping some snow off the porch Friday morning and carrying in a couple arms full of firewood, my cold fingers sure felt good around a cup of hot chocolate. A simple pleasure but one that is so satisfying.
There are lots of little things I like about the cold, if there wasn't, winter would be rough to get through around here. There are so many ways to warm your spirits on a cold winter's day. All you have to do is cuddle up to them when you get the chance and savor the soothing warmth.
I encourage everyone to get outside everyday and feel the cold on your face. Then turn to the sun and feel how nature warms you through.
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