It was a bluebird day.
There was no need for long johns or puffy jackets. Or toques. Or mitts.
We had no destination in mind, only to saunter the day inside the boreal woods.
Our eyes strained against the glare of sunlight on snow. We cursed forgetting sunglasses.
We were excited for the fresh snowfall.
Sure, it’s tougher hiking but fresh snow makes new wildlife tracks crisp. And there were so many out in the woods beyond our cabin: moose, mule deer, grouse, red squirrel, chipmunk, mouse (unknown species), wolf, coyote, red fox, lynx.
We traced the path of grouse and snowshoe hare wandering from rosehip bush to rosehip bush, seeking berries still lingering. We admired lynx tracks meandering through a poplar grove, envious of their snowshoe paws keeping them afloat in the deep snow.
The fresh snowfall revealed a wolf came out of the woods and crossed the frozen lake to circle a beaver lodge before trotting over to investigate the length of the beaver dam.
A red squirrel’s hole opening into the subnivean zone intrigued me. I long to know how it would be to travel between earth and snow.
We also watched black-capped chickadees peeling bark away in search of grub, listened to a three-toed woodpecker rapping on a tree.
We found several muskrat pushups.
And the first pussy willows of spring.
The balsam poplars are beginning to bud. I pinched a bud and then gave it a sniff. Inside a poplar bud is the familiar scent of spring. When the leaves finally begin to burst forth the winds will be thick with the familiar scent.
The same can be said for pasture sage. But that plant is still only melting out from under the snow. We have to wait a little while yet before she emerges.
We are also eager to find the first of the prairie crocuses. To see the first black-bellied plover of spring.
My happiness lies in a quiet, slow, simple life nestled in nature.
The stillness of the woods still draped in winter and mountains I’ve come to know slowly over twenty years this is home. Not some structure with four walls but this sense of belonging to a landscape. I don’t need much for a place to lay my head as long as I can step out the front door and into the wild.
Undoubtedly, I am fortunate to be spending these days in a cabin in the Yukon woods. My neighbours are arctic ground squirrels and the mule deer. Trails splinter off in all directions behind our home, trails leading to lakes, to hilltops and mountain peaks where wolves and coyotes, lynx and moose roam.