Saturday, March 7, 2009
Twigs and Tracks and a Big Wet Kiss
Well, it sure seemed like spring today: over 50 degrees, and I saw a robin. The truth is, I've seen robins off and on all winter, big flocks of them, feeding in crabapple trees and sumac. But this was a solitary robin, running across a patch of bare grass. Winter dead grass. But still . . .grass! Anyway, the true harbinger of spring for me is the red-winged blackbird, not robins. Growing up as I did on a lake with a marsh in my backyard, that conk-a-reeee-ah bugling through cattails sounds to my ears like a reveille waking spring. So off to a marsh I went, in hopes of hearing that call.
Nope. I didn't hear any red-winged blackbirds. Nor see them. But I had a nice walk on Bog Meadow Trail, a flat track that runs for about two miles on an old railroad bed, passing through forested wetlands and a couple of open marshes (no bogs: the name's a misnomer). I did flush a couple of mallards, but they hang around here all winter anyway, so that's nothing new. Aside from the trailside streams in full flow, the whole area still seemed all buttoned up for winter. The red osier shrubs were certainly rosy, but I think they stay that color all year. It's just that when all the leaves are gone we can see them better. Pretty.
Red osier dogwood twigs
There weren't many animal tracks anywhere, aside from a few deer trails. And then I saw this BIG one. Four toes, claws showing. A canid. "Holy mackerel!" I thought, "that's one big coyote!" I was kneeling down to take a photo when the monster ran right up to me and licked my face. How could I forget that this is a popular dog run? Her name is Tess and she's a Bernese Mountain Dog, just like my granddog Sampson. Good girl! What a good girl! God, those dogs are great!
As I said before, I had a good walk. But then, walks usually are. And I often learn something, too. Like not jumping to conclusions about coyotes.