Click on this link to listen (2 minutes 5 seconds)–
Early morn and sitting in my leather reading chair, I happened to glance up from Walden. Across the fields and up on Razorback Ridge; I spied a large dark form moving. It stood out sharply against the snow and black etched oaks. I seized binoculars and glassed a cow elk, alone. She was plowing through several feet of snow across the impossibly steep hillside. Running —from what?
She suddenly grew still and alert. Still as a predator focused razor sharp. Still as prey when discerning dangers preceding life or death. Erect and tense, a solid statue now —she listens and reaches out feeling for threats. Just moments later her neck shifts forward and she pushes off again — a lone trajectory crossing the winter ridge.
Meanwhile, hundreds of songbirds have fallen on four swinging platforms —feeders piled high with black sunflower seeds, millet, tiny cracked corn, and thistle. A noisy frenzy- feeding after a long cold night.
The sun begins to tip above Razorback Ridge and the glow strikes the farmhouse, barn, and all the frozen lands. The timing seems off, but I have just heard the unearthly cry of a cow elk. So often sounded in the middle of a night, it’s piercing, haunting counterpoint overlays the songbirds’ trill, and reminds me of the cow now long across and every beings’ eagerness to survive.