Winter Done Right

The sun has come out and the snow is all sparkles, glitter, sequins, and blue shadows, never settling on being just one kind of thing, keeping its options open. It looks so substantial I’m surprised to find my boots sinking into it when I step onto the porch. With a few light sweeps of my broom it flies off like a flock of startled birds rising into the air together, but I see that where I stepped before sweeping, the broom has left behind a perfect, icy image of my bootsole on the concrete. Once I noticed this I took a few steps here and there, sweeping in between, checking it out, until there was something like a dance chart on my doorstep. How to tango with the snow.

Squirrels do seem to pass mostly over the top of it, leaving shallow imprints. Deer leave deep trails that look like they’ve been cross-country skiing. deer trails – Version 2Winter dark comes so early and lasts so long, I don’t see much of the actual deer in late December. I see evidence of them written in the snow, a perfect map to the Deer Highway System, its on-ramps, and its rest stops. These are color photos, but look black and white because I took them at dusk, standing on my balcony looking down. No people walked across this yard. Some other animal tracks are mixed in there, but it’s mainly the deer, high-stepping when they leap with hurry, slow-dragging when they take their time. They prospect in the herb garden, but are disappointed in what they find. deer tracks twoThis is why the plants there are still standing. But the herd increases every year, so the deer know what they’re doing.

Winter is easy to deal with in Michigan because the inhabitants know it well. Streets are plowed, sidewalks are shovelled, and people who can’t be cheerful in the cold leave for Florida. I knew it was a good sign when I realized the state was shaped like a mitten.

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