Big tracks.  Wolf?  Coyote?  Moose?

Big tracks. Wolf? Coyote? Moose?

Yesterday my friend Catherine called.  Did I want to come up to her house and snowshoe back by the pond?  A pattern of large tracks appeared several mornings; should we hike back and explore?  Maybe discover what animal meandered through her fields?

Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, the wind had blown in most of the tracks, so we couldn’t distinguish the features well enough for identification.  My husband later suggested we might have attempted to scoop out the blown-in snow to discover the harder print underneath.  However, we didn’t.  Instead we continued on a little snowshoe adventure, admiring the dried waving rushes, the light glinting off a white birch, the expanse of her fields.

Catherine leaned low and pointed to the tracks in some of the grassy areas.  Apparently the snow in these areas often proves unreliable.  It’s not tamped down hard, as in the larger field.  Here you (or the animal) can sink in much further.  She demonstrated how the animal dropped down deeper in the snow.  Interesting, the facts one can learn with nature enthusiasts.

Catherine snowshoeing ahead (with poles)

Catherine snowshoeing ahead (with poles)

Catherine also used poles while snowshoeing.  This may be a technique to utilize in the future. The poles certainly helped stabilize the walk.  However, I found it difficult to operate the camera while leaning on the poles.  Too many objects to handle.  Maybe there’s a learning curve…?

After our hike in the below-zero temperature, we briefly melted by the woodstove before driving north to Calumet for another little adventure.  This one was held indoors at the Calumet Theatre  and is known as “Club Indigo”.  First, we enjoyed a delightful Finnish buffet in the old ballroom.  A salmon egg spread on bread, baked rutabagas, salads, salmon chowder and many other dishes tempted our palate.  We ate like kings and queens around eight-person round tables.  I enjoyed meeting some new friends and renewing acquaintances before our premier performance:  a Finnish movie (with English sub-titles) called Polka ja ilves.

The story-line tells of a twelve year old Finnish lad who moves to a small Lapp village. His father is working on a project to release a captive lynx into the wild.  Many of the villagers, especially reindeer farmers, resist the project and a drama ensues.  The boy falls in love with the lynx (it all connects spiritually with the lad’s dead mother) and bonds with it.  At some point the lynx quits snarling at him and…..well, I shall tell no more.  It was great in some spots, questionable in others, and yet I thoroughly enjoyed the entire evening:  food and film!

Now I’m thinking about those tracks at Catherine’s house.  Maybe they are lynx tracks.  They do make occasional appearances here in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, so states the 2005 Michigan Wildlife Action Plan.  I would love to see a lynx.  At a safe distance.  Maybe from a car.  Or across the field?

P.S.  Never fear, I also stepped outside today!  First, wandered through the woods.  Snow comes up to the knees is some places now.  I tried to walk through a plowed area next to the road and basically got stuck.  Finally pulled free by crawling out of the waist-deep snowbank. This didn’t look pretty.  You have to pull yourself forward on your stomach and throw your feet over the bank.  Then you look around furtively to see if anyone witnessed it before continuing for a long walk along the road.

No lynx spottings today.