Squirrel and Snow Flea Love: To Everything a Season

Last weekend again found Gavin and me at Trail Wood, where we did some very rudimentary tracking.

What delight it gave me to find deer hoof marks in the snow by Edwin Way Teale’s cabin:

deer hooves

Days before, I had snapped a photo of what I assumed must be rabbit tracks in the snow of our yard. But it turns out they belonged to the ubiquitous grey squirrel:

squirrel prints.jpg

I am starting to realize that the squirrel is relegated to “only” statements unfairly. Why only a squirrel? They have whole, busy lives that go mostly unnoticed right outside our door–gathering food, meeting friends and “significant others,” avoiding predators (and in our case for many years past, chewing their way into cozy attics).

Did you know it is the first of two yearly squirrel mating seasons? Consider this when you are vexed by these bullies of the birdfeeder–the next squirrel you see may be expecting!

I am sure that without Gavin I would never have spotted the snow fleas aka springtails by Teale’s cabin. All that hopping is because they don’t  use legs or wings to move—they are propelled by an abdominal appendage (thank you Backyard Almanac!). The fleas, too, are in or approaching mating season, which depends on relatively warmer temperatures.

snow fleas

Love abounds in the creature world, just in time for Valentine’s Day. How blessed we are when we slow down long enough to notice all of this amorous buzzing about in the snow! New life is not as far off as it seems. (PS: if you have somehow missed the famous Byrd’s pop/folk version of Ecclesiastes 3, see the original hereattribution to King Solomon makes this the pop song with the oldest lyrics). Beautiful poetry, and certainly rings true when you observe the cycles of the natural world.)