Field mice tracks like delicate lace woven across the snow

Posted by | January 22, 2007

“In winter I sometimes went out early and walked the fields of our farm alone. I liked to go on mornings of fresh snowfall, when all the meadows were trackless and hushed with white. I would walk up through Captain Jim’s old orchard and when I got near the moss-gray trees along the rail fence, I would begin to see the little animal tracks and would follow them up and down along the edge of the woods.

“There were the triangular prints of the rabbits, or the little field mice tracks like delicate lace woven across the snow. Sometimes there might be fox tracks, on track in front of the other in a straight line. After a warm night, there might be skunk tracks, like little human footprints but with a soft white dab where the tail had brushed the snow; and up in the bushes the bird tracks made dark little stitches mending the hill. There were also the round cat tracks, no claws showing, retracted feline tread; and one morning I saw blood on the snow.

“Sometimes I could feel the others close around me, down in their little burrows in the earth: the gray, sleeping wood mice; the little striped ground squirrels; and the soft curled-up rabbits, the snoring old groundhogs, and the ring-tailed raccoons. Then the silence would come down, as though it fell on our meadows from the high whiteness of Pinnacle Rock.”

Louise McNeill, (1911-1993)
West Virginia Poet Laureate
The Milkweed Ladies
(1988, University of Pittsburgh Press)
(pp 63-64)

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