Footprints in the snow

You think you haven't got much wildlife out in your yard, huh? Just take a look outside whenever there's snow on the ground. There were literally thousands of animal footprints in our yard during the cold, snowy days last week. It was mostly birds that left evidence of their presence but there were also plenty of bunny trails - big jack rabbits and smaller cottontail footprints were all over the place. That's where the adventure began.

Clyde, our big three-year-old cat, has been prowling all over looking for something exciting to do. Right now he's laying at the bottom of a weeping birch tree watching six little yellow-breasted finch birds fuss over who gets to eat off the wild bird seed sock.

We've been seeing a large hawk practically every morning. He perches on the same branch of the same poplar tree and waits there very still and focused. What's he looking at? quail birds. They run from bush to bush, trying to hide from old "Hawk Eye" up in the poplar.

I spent over an hour last week following some interesting animal tracks that circled around our house and then went up the Bureau of Land Management hill that's right behind our yard. When I got to the top of the hill, the footprints suddenly disappeared into a century-old juniper tree. The fresh footprints appeared to be from a big dog or perhaps a coyote, also known as an American prairie wolf, or "Old Man Coyote" by Native Americans. There was some scat up there with hair in it, leading me to believe it belonged to a coyote. If so, he better get back in his hole in the ground and stay a little warmer these minus-zero winter days.

The next time there's some fresh snow in your yard, you might like to take a little walk and I bet you'll see lots of footprints and little trails that just might lead you to an exciting adventure. Look under the juniper trees.

Pray for his soul?

There's a prayer basket at St. Gall Church and parishioners often put the names of family and friends into the basket. Our 6-year-old granddaughter asked me what they were doing. I told her and then I saw Jenee go over to the large basket and put a piece of paper in it. When she returned I asked her what she wrote on the paper. She said it was for prayers for "Lucky Duck," her favorite pet duck that had died recently. Who says animals don't have souls?

n Linda Monohan can be reached at 782-5802.


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