On wily deer and the road not taken

Appropriately guided by a blaze orange sunset, we went tramping Saturday.

We followed an impressive line of tracks into the woods, our boots recklessly crunching through the hoof prints of a hundred deer.

I imagined them rolling their big doe eyes at us as we cautioned each other to be quiet so we might spot them.

Thick-coated, relaxed and wily, they rested, easily hidden, while we clomped along. We’d been down this road before, and they knew our visit would be brief. They may have passed each other big bowls of tasty roots as they kicked back their hoofs and enjoyed our show.

We followed our frozen breath around their favorite spots, circled a pond, and waited near a small hill where our paths diverged.

Darkness spread and cast an eerie air over our adventure. I heard a howl.

“Wolf?” I asked.

“Dog.”

Both relieved and disappointed, I walked on, eyes darting back and forth, cold finger poised on my camera’s shutter release.

In other seasons, I’d seen plenty of wildlife as I tramped through these woods, and had even found myself embarrassingly pinned by a porcupine once on that very path. We’d seen twin eagles swooping high above our heads, whole families of deer darting back and forth across the path, gaggles of turkeys loudly running with their awkward wattle waddles.

Saturday, though, we tramped alone, eventually consoling ourselves with the wonder of a rare opportunity to make our own tracks through the snow.

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I like this sign, with its optimistic martini glasses and the ice shanty city growing behind it.
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I thought the angled line of these trees looked cool with that little sliver of sunset.
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White winter sky, white frozen snow, and a blaze of light in between.
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Those are all deer tracks and we followed their winding trail into the woods.
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But we didn’t see any deer so, eventually, we left that path and enjoyed the rare opportunity to make our own.
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And this was our reward as we made our way out of the woods. So beautiful!
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It’s always good to see the warm lights of the cabin after a good winter tramp.

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