Wintry magic

The critters knew.

Breakfast walnut

At dawn, the gray squirrels and fox squirrels already were busily rummaging in the dry leaves for a breakfast of walnuts to fuel up against the coming snow.

Red-headed woodpecker

The young red-headed woodpecker chattered incessantly as it poked and pounded on the dead elm in search of high-energy grubs and insects.

Brown creeper

A tiny brown creeper scooted up tree after tree, using its sharp, curved beak to dig little morsels out of crevasses in the bark.

Hungry little buck

And a little buck deer probed its nose deep into the thatch of Reed canarygrass, gobbling mouthfuls of green shoots that had not yet turned brown and dry.

Goldfinches galora

At the bird feeder by the house, flocks of goldfinches crowded in to stuff themselves with sunflower chips. The titmouse hopped back and forth between the bird bath and feeder, apparently needing frequent drinks to wash down the dry seeds.

Thirsty titmouse

A damp, chilly east wind whipped up the valley, foretelling the arrival of the snow. Soon, on cue, specks of white drifted through the gray-brown woods.

The little buck, temporarily satiated, bedded down in the grass, warmed by his full stomach and thick coat of insulating hair.

The fine, powdery snow dusted the oaks leaves, stuck to east side of the trees, and dropped a veil over the forest. The silence was broken only by the barely perceptible hiss of flakes on twigs and leaves.

More sensible folks probably stayed inside by the fire, smugly sipping hot chocolate as they watched the weather through the window. But I had the privilege of feeling the sting of flakes in my cheeks, hearing the squeak of the snow under by boots, and seeing the magical black-white-gray of the December woods.

Sometimes, deer hunting can be just an excuse to connect with Nature.

Empty deer bed . . .

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