The snow has been steadily creeping lower and lower on the mountainsides this past week. Sonja captured this image on Monday as the clouds began to lift. While we haven't had any snow falling at park headquarters, yet, we did have a pretty hard frost last night, and when I took the dogs out for a walk this morning I could smell winter in the air.
This is one of my favorite times of the year, and something I really missed while we were in Arizona: the crisp, clear air filling your lungs, snuggling under a blanket with a warm cup of hot chocolate, the snot-cicles freezing on your beard...
I also missed living in a place where the ecosystem is largely still intact. A place where most of the large predators still roam the forests. A place where, every time you go for a hike in the woods the instinctual knowledge that somewhere out there, perhaps close by, is a large, furry animal that could eat you still has a ring of truth to it.
I was reminded of that very thing this morning while taking the dogs for their walk. As I stood on the trail, waiting for Harvey to finish one of his ten-minute marathon pees, my ears perked up as a mournful and haunting sound in the distance echoed over the tree tops. It was followed by others like it, some higher in pitch, a few quite deep. It was a sound impossible to hear in most parts of this country...the sound of wolves.
There's no other sound (except, perhaps, the cry of a loon on a fog-shrouded lake in the great north woods) that captures the essence wildness like the howl of a wolf. And I feel fortunate to be able to call them neighbor.