Another 6 inches in Dixfield. After spending the morning working in the office, I went to lunch at the Front Porch Cafe with my snow-day-off husband just as the snowfall was coming to an end. In the afternoon, the outdoors beckoned and unable to concentrate on witness statements and motion-writing, I headed out to Backkingdom with my snowshoes.
Backkingdom is a large area of woods, hills and ponds between Dixfield and Mexico. The Webb River runs through it and there are a few hunting camps scattered throughout. The many trails are used by cross-country runners and ATV riders during their season and snowmobilers, cross country skiers and snowshoers in theirs. The trails aren't used by anyone in the mud season (except maybe testosterone-powered males who like to get their trucks stuck). E first introduced me to the trails when he was in high school and running cross country, but truth be told he got his truck stuck out there plenty.
It is easy to snowshoe in Backkingdom because the snowmobiles have packed out the trail, but today I veered off the snowmobile route and slogged through the deep drifts. I found the tracks of a ruffed grouse. The little extensions on the sides grow out of the scales of their toes to help them travel over the deep snow--kind of like natural snowshoes. The ruffed grouse like the deep fluffy snow, because they burrow underneath it to stay warm. I would like to see one make his way under the snow. I imagine he would use his powerful wings to help tunnel in deep enough to use the snow as a nice insulating blanket. In the Spring, the males stand on top of a log and beat those powerful wings to make a sound that sounds just like a chainsaw starting up. Whether the sound is to mark his territory or to attract females, I don't know. But I do know, it scared me half to death the first time that I thought I heard a chainsaw starting up while I was walking through an isolated forest thinking I was alone.