Winter has begun.  The frozen pond is graced with new snow, brilliant white except for shadows from the shoreline trees.


Almost invisible in the sunlight, there are tracks through the snow, crossing the pond.  Some are small, some larger.  Something took a winter shortcut.

Small mammals dare not try to swim across the pond in summer.  Hungry fish and snapping turtles lurk below the surface.

Ice shortens their paths, saving time and energy.

But there is no cover on the ice.  Hawks could snag them before they reached the opposite shore.  The danger from above could explain why there are not dozens of tracks, just a few, representing the quick or foolish who dared to take the risk.  If they can reach the shadows, they might be alright.

Maybe they crossed at night, when hawks were perched and still.

But what about the owls?  There are owls in winter, too.  They are silent, and darkness is no protection.

Do you dash across the pond as a shortcut to food or shelter on the other side?  Or do you take the long way round and avoid having your life cut short by talons from the sky?

Winter offers new choices.  Choose wisely.