Get yourselves to Florida, an old friend e-mailed. It's 77 degrees here, and the breeze off the Gulf is balmy.
Tempting, no question. Northern New England winters are tough. Cold, snow, ice, and winds that freeze your nose.
With our friend's admonition on my mind, I went out this morning for fresh air and to check the icy path to our oil tank, not wanting the fuel-truck driver to slip. On the way back to our entryway, to get salt to sprinkle, I saw tracks.
They came from our pinewoods, passed near our front door, and then angled off across the snow.
An expert tracker once told us dog tracks zigzag, because of attention-deficit disorder, but a fox walks straight and purposeful.
I come out every day to see what news is printed on the snow. Red squirrel, down from a tree, bits of its spruce-cone breakfast littering the snow. Fisher, bounding across the white meadow. Deer everywhere. Tiny tracks, the passage of a white-footed mouse. Meanwhile, no matter how cold, chickadees cheerfully flit in the balsams. Overhead, ravens exchange raucous messages.
We've been particularly mesmerized by the fox. It's mysterious. No tracks in new snow. Then, a half-hour later, tracks. Passing in front of a window, but never seen.
Today, though, at lunch, Joyce suddenly stood up, pointing out the window: "Look!"
She trotted, that fox, just on the other side of the pond. A redhead so gorgeous—with an enormous fluffy tail—we wanted to run down and pet her, which would not have succeeded. She's a wild thing, hunting mice.
She turned her head and looked up at us, in the window, eyes dark and sharp. Then she vanished into the pinewoods, on pressing business.
Her beauty, though, lingered in the January air.
Does that make bearable a long winter in this climate? I'm not sure.
A little, though, it helps.