The weather around here has been typical New England – a historic ice-storm followed by a major snowstorm, then a near-record thaw, followed by bone-chilling cold and more snow. Hassles aside, I’ve been able to get out on my X-C skis and snowshoes, including a ramble through the fields and woods behind my house.

Seeing the different animal tracks is like running into old friends, and even a new one now and then. This year an oppossum seems have taken up residence somewhere nearby. His tracks across the back of my yard gave him away.

The fox is still around. I walked along his meandering tracks at the edge of the field where he had done his night’s hunting. And then a bit of a puzzle. Suddenly the snow was all churned up. Two foxes frisking maybe? Then I noticed the tracks of a small rabbit, one of the cottontails that live in the heavy brush along an old stone wall. And then another old friend – the distinct impression of large wing feathers in the snow, most likely the Barred Owl that lives in the pine forest down below. Had the owl and fox fought over the rabbit? Had the rabbit slipped away in the confusion? I couldn’t quite tell. There was no blood or fur anywhere to be seen, though I looked closely. So either he did, or else the owl got him away cleanly.

Down closer to the pines, I came across a lot of deer tracks. At least half a dozen individuals. For many years there were only two or three in these woods, but now their numbers seem to be increasing. I find that heartening.