After more blanketing snow last week, Coyote Clan gathered in our morning circle to give thanks and talk about the day ahead. The crisp air quickly filled with anticipation for the tracking adventures we might find in the white-washed trail-crossed land before us. Tracking in the snow offers many opportunities to understand the ways that animals move over long distances, and also the rare opportunity to follow clear tracks over long distances. We heard a story saved from the previous weekend about tracking foxes in Settler’s Park, in which Michael (aka red squirrel) and I quickly followed the tracks right to a den in which the fox hid from us. So we wondered, could we repeat this experience today, and follow a set of tracks to the animals that made them?
After working with our bow drill kits and making friction fire in the morning, we decided to take some time to relax. While one group hiked up a tall hillside for some sledding fun, another group quietly conspired to scout (sneak up on) them. As the scouts crept up the hillside and neared their targets, they quickly learned that staying in the shadows is not enough sometimes. They evaded the eyes and ears of the sledding group, but in their haste, they disturbed a nearby jay, who called out and alerted the sledders that someone was sneaking toward them. Apparently not everyone heard the jay’s alarm call, however. In order to emulate the stealth of the animals, the scouts decided to follow a fresh deer trail up the hill. When they followed the arrow shaped tracks over the top of the hill, they were met with the eyes of the very deer who had made the trail, now resting.
This week, we returned to more icy weather on the land. Ice crusted snow covered the ground. After some games to warm ourselves, we set off tracking cottontails and coyotes in the snow. When we came to a flood trench, we found the trails of mice winding in and out of little tunnels. One mouse had run up the bank, but its trail vanished half way to the top. The tracks of a lone coyote cut through the trench, stopping at this mouse trail, where little dots of red stained the snow. No bones or fur showed that the poor critter had probably been swallowed whole. We decided to stop in that place and share our gratitude for everything before continuing on in our exploration. When we were done walking along the icy creek tracking and throwing snowballs, we were ready for a warm fire. In the finger-numbing air under a blanket of clouds, the boys gathered wet wood and damp tinder together and built it into a little ti pi in our fire ring. Meanwhile, three of us warmed up a little coal from a mullein stalk and a piece of cottonwood root. With the little coal nestled in a bed of cattail fluff and damp grass, and with a little struggle on our part, there was soon a bright hot fire crackling at the center of our lunch circle, adorned with roasting apples and greasy meat drippings. After lunch, we’d squinted at enough tracks, so we found a long sledding hill in the hogback and spent the rest of the afternoon there.
Until next time!