The snow keeps falling here, more than was seemingly anticipated for December, spawn of an errant system that found itself stuck on the Great Plains. Between the actual snow fall, the very light density of the flakes and the perpetual wind, our world is a series of rounded, clean surfaces. A terrain before erosion has worked its creative destruction.
With temperatures in the teens even the sunny days aren’t incentive enough for people to get out early after the sun rises. An early hiker willing to don all the layers needed to retain warmth outside is rewarded with a nearly blank canvas untouched, at least by human feet.
Animals out seeking food and warmth to survive conditions we pass off as inconvenient leave signs of their passage. Footprints reveal who passed where, going to where – everything but intention can be read from the trails in the snow. The early sun shining low across the snow casts shadows in each depression to clearly mark passage of a creature out to make a living. Movement along paths opened in the snow darken as trails, leading lines for the photographer desiring a reference in the white world.
While I’m setting up my tripod in knee deep snow I admire the animal that lightly ran across the snow, invoking references to elves in Tolkien’s writings. Do they ignore the cold under their feet as easily as they do the depth of snow? What do they think of this surface, so unlike the grass or leaves they encounter most of the year? Or is survival such an imperative in this harsh climate all other considerations are secondary?