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Foot Prints in the Snow

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Magic in Nature

Foot Prints in the Snow

Deborah Accuardi

I love a quiet morning in winter. Walking out to open the barn with snow falling on my head. The ducks are anxious. They can hear the difference outside. They know there is snow. They are even more anxious when its raining. Wet, wet, wet is all they want. As I walk up here is a little bunny. I know she was given a name by her owner, but she moved here and now I call her little girl. Maisie is it? no thats not right. She doesn’t care. I’m sure she must be a Virgo…doing it her own way. What need is there in a name. She arrives at the door as I do. I’m sure timed just right. I open the doors and she hops out of the way as a flood of feathers, both duck and chicken fly from inside. All have woken and those that are on the ground want to be out. They know it’s time for scratch and breakfast. All await the throwing out of the scratch, even that little girl. As they all are occupied I fill the feeder with grain and move about to gather chicken eggs from boxes and duck eggs from their various hiding places. I make a note of the fact that new straw needs to be put down. As lovely as this is yesterday it was torrential rain and it has compacted this thin layer of straw. The duck eggs are laid on the edges where they could pull together a nest to lay their eggs in. I have plenty of broody hens, but what I would give for a duck to sit a month on her eggs. Once we had one. Of course that was during a short time with no drake…what was the point. Once all the barn duties are done…feeding check, eggs gathered check, new straw down check, cuteness observed from all around check. I never get tired of watching a bunny nibble at corn right next to the birds. Of course the ducks are off. Rarely do they stick around for scratch…off to the pond. Must get wet. I turn to head back to the house. My hands are getting cold. Fingerless gloves are great to work with, but they really do not offer protection from the cold. The snow is light still. It must have begun just a couple hours before. I can see the tracks of the one hen that refuses the protection of the barn at night. She must be perched in the awning outside the garden shed. The little bunny tracks as she travels over from the old hen house at the top of the orchard. She’s become a wild thing, well she thinks so. No winter nap for her, runs about in the rain or snow, cavorts with chickens, loves an occasional cuddle. But in her mind she’s wild as hell. And just before I get to the back door I spy a trail of deer tracks. I haven’t seen them for quite a while. I’ve been hearing gun shots not far off. Some ridiculus person practicing with a target. But it has scared the wildlife enough that we don’t see the deer like usual. They must be coming through on the deer highway up our driveway from the river across the neighbor’s yard ahead of us. They are somewhat smart. They gather that they don’t hear that terrible noise early in the morning so that is when they come through. The deer we see know us. They have been visiting their whole lives. They know in late summer there will be apples for them. Some will even eat from our hands. In other times of the year there is that nice compost pile full of greens or what have you. And if they are very lucky a garden or orchard gate will be left open for some serious treats. But now is the hard time of the year. No treats unless they are brave enough to go into the barn. Some will. Some have met resistance from chickens and don’t want to try their luck a second time. Today they seem to have just moved through. One maybe two of them. On I walk into the house where it is warm from the fire I started before I went out. The smell of coffee is now in the air. The prelude of the day has finished. Or was that the whole day and the rest just an epilogue.