Here’s how I closed out 2017, on one of the calm and graciously quiet days between Christmas and New Year’s: slowly going numb and trying not to move or breathe too loudly.
I’m hunkered down in the snow with my camera around my neck as the temperature sinks toward zero. Sheltered by a cedar tree, the cold is bearable—more slow burn than sharp knife.
There’s something about fresh snow that makes the world seem so much more peaceful and still…Right up until my dad’s electronic coyote call starts belting out the siren song of dying rabbits.
A pair of whitetail deer take flight a quarter mile away, bounding effortlessly over a fence and out of sight, and all the other dark spots in the white pasture—baby cedar trees, upturned earth, patches of dark grass—suddenly take on the appearance of movement, of living things. I have to study them closely to confirm that they are not, in fact, moving. That tree is not, in fact, a coyote answering the siren’s song.
Now, instead of listening to the quiet world, I feel like the whole world is poised and listening to me. The snowy tucks and folds of the pasture are vibrating with a life hidden just beyond my sight.
I can’t take pictures yet, not until we’re sure no coyotes are coming, because coyotes have good ears and my Sony’s shutter click is too loud, though surely not louder than all of us—me, my dad, sister, brother-in-law—trudging and crunching through the snow in heavy boots to get here.
Speaking of boots, mine are slowly losing ground in this war on cold…
I played this sitting and waiting game at three different pastures, sitting in on my dad’s new favorite past time for about twenty minutes at each place. We didn’t see a single coyote, and while that would have been pretty cool, I was mostly there to breathe in all the open space, anyway. That, we had in spades.
It did not disappoint.