Wild Things

_1120745When I was first thinking about what to call this blog, one of my ideas was a line from a Wendell Berry poem – I come into the peace of wild things.  That well describes the little adventure I had today.

The Spaniard and I went out for a skate ski on the lake.  It was amazing – seemingly endless lake ahead of us, and around us the spectacular scenery – the sky was clear but the land to the north and west was wreathed in shining grey light and fog.  Everything else was white, as the early morning fog had left a thick layer of frost on everything.  Suddenly, it’s an all white world.

_1120732_2_1120733IMG_4696I was slightly hesitant about skiing across the lake, stories of friends falling through ice dancing through my head, but our tracks weren’t the first.  Martin was skiing ahead of me, and I occasionally stopped to catch my breath.  On one such occasion I noted a dog following our tracks, a short ways back.  But as he came closer, I could tell that it wasn’t a dog. First of all its very rare to see a dog running loose in the winter, as it’s too cold for most dogs to be outside.  The tough huskies, who can be outdoors all season, are generally tied up all the time.  And this guy just moved differently.  His legs were so light and free moving, he was almost floating down the lake.  Clearly he was used to covering long distances with ease.  Turns out it was a coyote.  He followed us down the middle of the lake, and then kept going past us when we stopped to watch him.  He didn’t seem bothered by us in the least, as he trotted by, sniffing here and there, and stopping at times to admire the view.  What a beautiful wild thing he is.

Later on, I took the dog out for a short run on the road at the edge of town.  I could see what I thought were two dogs up ahead, one being walked on a leash, the other watching from a distance away.  Closer inspection revealed the second one to be a fox – a beautiful burnished bronze colored one, with a black face and legs.  Foxes always look so curious, so inquisitive.  (Unlike the coyote, who looked more insouciant.)  We snuck up close enough to get a photo, but as soon as she spotted the dog she was off.  What a beautiful wild thing she is.

Speaking of wild things, someone (an Ice Lake Rebel perhaps?)  drove past our house tonight in a car.  Imagine driving your car across the lake only 6 days after freeze up.  This seems extreme even by houseboater standards.   (As he didn’t fall in while driving, it’s clear I don’t need to worry about falling in while skiing on the lake.)  But I hope he stays near the houseboats, and leaves the open spaces of the lake for me, and the wild things.

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About Tandi

I love my morning coffee, reading, the wilderness, paddling, poetry, my Spanish husband, and being a doctor. I also love writing my blog, and reading yours.
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10 Responses to Wild Things

  1. Tandi, you are a poet! I can go to sleep tonight with these lovely words and pictures in my mind.

  2. Judy says:

    So Tandi, where is the picture of the fox. I do enjoy reading your blog…..felt sorry for Martin while you were off sunning in California, is that fair?

    • Tandi says:

      Hi Judy. I do have a photo of the fox but it wasn’t worth posting. It’s not clear enough.

      And may I say, in my defense,
      It wasn’t easy being in California. It was actually too hot. And then, I had to walk a whole block to the coffee shop each morning. So you can see it wasn’t all roses. 🙂

  3. Todd says:

    Lovely day; thanks for sharing the sightings and photographs! Any thoughts on what it is about Yellowknife which makes wildlife so accepting of human presence? The way I’ve heard it most areas with historical first nation presence have fairly skittish critters due to hunting and, whilst coyotes are much more human tolerant than the fox species and subspecies I’m familiar with, they still usually seem to prefer to be quite stealthy.

    • Tandi says:

      Todd, I had to laugh. About 30 seconds after I read your comment, we opened our front door to find a friendly fox on the door step. I think we are part of his nightly rounds as we’ve seen him several times. I’m sure with the slightest invitation he would have come in. I don’t find the coyotes or foxes at all frightened of people. I’ve seen the on the streets of town in broad daylight. I think perhaps here they are not really hunted, although they are trapped. When we ski we see lots of traps in the woods.

      • Todd says:

        Interesting; seems entirely plausible. I’m aware of habituated coyote and fox individuals under somewhat similar circumstances—not so much habituated populations in those cases, but then they don’t offer the urban-wildland intersection of Yellowknife. I don’t know of comparable data in the smaller canids but do know of grey wolf data which is quite close to what you’re suggesting.

  4. shoreacres says:

    That light, in the first photo. That’s what it looked like the day I was on Salisbury Plain, at Stonehenge, at the winter solstice. I may pull out the post I wrote about that and give it another whirl this year. I think it’s been two years since I posted it, readership changes, and writing skills increase. Why not?

    In any event, I’m touched by all of these photos. Where you live, even the light seems wild. (I still haven’t gotten over that series from the time of the fires.) Our coyotes have moved on for the time being, but a friend in the Texas hill country has been seeing a fox.They’re such beautiful creatures. I’ve seen only a few in my time, but perhaps I will again: especially if I stop hanging around the bayous and bays.

    In the photos of the dogs, I take it that’s hoarfrost? So beautiful!

    • Tandi says:

      Yes, that is the hoarfrost. I don’t really know what causes it, I suspect its a form of frozen condensation, but the hoarfrost crystals can grow very large. The appear overnight, and in this case, were gone in the wind the next day. It reminds me a bit of a childhood toy of mine, where you grew some sort of crystals in water. Its like that. Always beautiful, and kind of a miracle.

      • Todd says:

        That’s in the right direction. But the physics are a bit sneaky. Frost is formed by a sufficiently cold object triggering water vapour to transition directly to ice. So, to be technical about it, hoar doesn’t get to be frozen condensation because it skips the liquid state. Hoar is distinct from other types of frost in that it’s created by objects cooling below frost point from losing heat into a cold sky. This is why it’s also called radiation frost—not in the sense of radioactivity but in the sense a planetary surface warmed by the sun radiates its heat back into space at night.

        There’s a wildly bizarre variation of hoarfrost known as yukimarimo. I’ll leave you to look it up if you like as I’d just spoil the surprise. Probably never gets cold enough in Yellowknife for it to occur, though.

        (As an aside, the fancy name for frozen condensation is atmospheric icing; it includes rime.)

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