The theological overlay has changed over the years, but the underlying principle is the same: Sun = Life. So, on this most life-affirming day of the year, Happy Solstice to you (11:30pm CST is the hour, for those who like some precision).
In celebration, let’s have a quiz. These photos are all from along the Elk River, taken earlier this week.
Who made these tracks in the sand (each print would nestle easily in the palm of your hand)?
The same animal, showing back and front feet:
How about this one (a bigger track, about human hand-print sized, or a little smaller)? Normally, this creature has a fourth toe, pointing backward, but this time the mystery track-maker must have been walking daintily.
Now, look up. Whose nest is this?
Answers: here, here, and here.
I’ll close this ramble with a shot of the dawn mist on the Elk. Around my feet was strewn the plastic detritus of Homo sapiens (fishing tackle, TVs, bags of household junk, oil cans — all the usual suspects, minus needles this time), but the place was still beautiful.
Educated guessing here:
1. Raccoon (Alternate answer: River otter, but I don’t see any signs of webbing, so I’ll stick to my first guess. Does the Elk even have river otter populations?
2. Great Blue Heron (Alternate answer: Wild Turkey, though heron+river makes more sense to me).
3. Osprey nest
Very good. Last one is Bald Eagle, but there is really no way of knowing that for sure from the photo, so Osprey is just as good a guess.
Perfectly happy to be wrong on the last one. Bald Eagles are a good thing to have.
Source of warmth
Journey across your sky
“If you live in this hemisphere, it’s your signal to celebrate.” Tilt, spin, and a new year begins.
A raccoon would be my guess for the 1st 2 prints.
Grade = A+
Maybe some radula tracks next?