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From whence she came I do not know. Her shadow glides over me and snow and soars silently across the valley meadow– over Kickin’ Mule Creek, over another meadow where she alights heavily in a sentinel Ponderosa Pine. The dogs seem to have completely missed the turkey hen’s passing.
Sixty head of elk have worn a snow packed path through the meadows, into Spanish Oak alley where the lichen and moss streams down from branches; their path angling sharply downward and crossing Kickin’ Mule Creek. Professor Skookum, Gypsy, Cowboy, and I follow the easy elk road instead of trudging our own path through three feet of snow.
Like buckshot from a shotgun—a rising spray of eleven mallards peppers the sky after the dogs and I surprise the ducks. They were floating in the tiniest wild-mint filled pool in the creek. A pool just large enough for three big dogs.
How the ducks got up so quickly and cleared the branches of the woods seems magical. Gypsy stiffened into a hard stop-to -flush, but Cowboy glanced up at the fleeing ducks, wagged his tail, and tore off in glee, but not after the ducks. He ran through the creek, up the snowy embankment and into the meadow other side. While twelve year old Professor Skookum just watched then proceeded carefully with me and we picked our way around slippery creek rocks—to meet the other side.