On the early dunes of Limantour, in this window of winter warmth we have been enjoying just around the corner from Imbolc, that old seasonal celebration of the return of lactation in ewes, the stirring of buds and sap, the animals are out. I can imagine them in the waning moonlight and early dawn, busy. Here are a few traces...
The place where a rabbit-- I believe a black-tailed jackrabbit, judging by the size of this mark, though I may be mistaken— paused, lowered her haunches perhaps to sniff the air, before bounding off into the pale green dune grass.
The grasses and the hills soft with early light, like the body of some hare, some mouse, some coyote, some rumbling tender beast.
A deer leapt in wild, sand-spraying curved lines up and down the beach, eventually circling back on his own trail. It was quite a sight-- unlike anything I've ever seen, and no sign of anyone chasing him. For the life of me, it looked like he was dancing in the moonlight, bounding for the joy of his legs. Is this just my fancy? Someone will correct me and say that animals never waste energy in this way... Perhaps not, but perhaps they become full of moon-joy too.
Two coyotes trotted side by side in a courtship dance, their prints almost perfectly in sync, sometimes so close their bodies must have been touching. Here and there, you could see a mid-air switch of paws, like they were kicking up their heels. It was the sweetest spiral-dance I've ever seen, I could almost smell and hear them under the moon, in the salt air, the sea crashing, their paws and noses all focused in on each other. I left a little braid of dune grass in a circle around their four paws, to honor their love this winter season.
Their trail went on for miles down the beach, like perfect runes of coyote-devotion. What a story. I wonder where they are now.
And the little shore birds, snowy plovers maybe, made their own constellations by a salty pool. A whole Milky Way of them.
Meanwhile, the dune grass moved in the wind like a thick pelt, the willows and dogwoods still bare and red-orange as fox-fur, the animals left their footprint stories on the skin of the beach, and bending down to see and touch them was like some sort of devotion.