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Seeing the Way the World Smells

I do love walking the dogs in the snow, which is good because I've gotten to do that a lot this year, including the six inches that fell last Wednesday. What I love most is seeing the world the way the dogs smell it. In the picture above, there are bunny tracks, coon tracks, cat prints, dog prints, boot marks, probably mouse and vole prints too. But unlike a snow-free walk, with dogs heading this way and that, trailing invisible clues and scents, in the snow I can see what they smell. The deer cutting across the field to the brush, the wing marks from a hawk snatching a squirrel, the strange dog that seems to wander our place only at night and marks our trashcan and turns on the light by the barn, but we have never seen. In the snow I can see that he comes out of the woods west of our property and disappears the way he comes. When the snow covers the ground, I feel invited into our dog's world, I can understand the lunging this way and the dodging that way, that otherwise only mystifies and can irritate me when they are on their leads. I am more understanding when the fox tracks in the blueberries reveal why all three dogs are so anxious to head that way. I wish I could see what the dogs smell everyday, all year long because it teaches me so much about the hidden world that exists on the farm.

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