Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

I knew the minute I walked into the summer kitchen this morning and saw fresh tracks beside the barn that I’d head out the door as soon as possible. And then I realized that my snowshoes were in the back of my truck, which our youngest son had borrowed. Never fear. We have several more pairs.


The prints that drew me outside were those of our “friendly” neighborhood porcupine. And once again, he had much to share, the first being cat prints inside his–thanks to one of several that frequently pass under the barn.


If you’ve never examined a porcupine trough before, I encourage you to do so. As it sashayed along, it left behind hair and quill impressions. Can you see them?


I followed Porky along his regular route and over the stonewall only to discover prints I’ve never met before. My first impression was raccoon, but the shape of the prints and the trail didn’t match up in my brain. More and more people have mentioned opossum sightings in the past few years, but I’ve only seen one or two–flattened on the road. Today, in our very woods, opossum prints.


Our own marsupial. The front print obscured the hind, which features an opposable thumb. Their pattern, I learned from checking David Brown’s Companion Guide to the Trackards, is left hind-left front, right hind-right front, left hind-left front, etc.


As it walked along, from tree to tree, past the studio and into the neighbor’s woodlot, I could practically see the animal moving, its long tail dragging in the snow. My heart sang with the journey. But how do they survive here, I wondered?

Eventually, I realized I was headed into a neighbor’s backyard several doors down and so I turned and continued in the other direction, but thankful that Porky had once again shared something new with me.


I traveled down the cowpath and into my smiling place, where what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and . . . oops, I mean another Porky trail. And so I followed it, back and forth over a stone wall and under fallen trees I needed to pass over.


It led me around an uprooted tree and there . . .


the trail ended. You may notice ice crystals below the moss in the larger opening. And if you look closely below the moss, you might just see a few light colored streaks–those would be quills. I found Porky. He started to move and though I knew I could easily outrun him, unless I tripped and fell like I often do when snowshoeing, I decided to leave him be. But once again, my heart was singing.


And then . . . some really large and deep prints crossed the trail I frequent.


They were almost the size of my mitt.


And every where I turned for the rest of the morning, it seemed moose had also turned. I soon realized there were at least three and they slipped in the snow much as I often do.


In tracks I’d previously made, both a deer and moose had passed, providing a sense of size.


I followed one, who had paused to play–it’s hard to resist an inviting mud puddle. Had I not been wearing snowshoes . . .


I think we were both discouraged to realize a snowmobile had found its way to the log landing, though I for one, wasn’t surprised. The moose made a U-turn and headed back into the woods. A short time later, I followed suit.


It was there that I discovered hair stuck to a deer bed where its body had warmed the snow, which thus turned to ice.


And another snow spider, this one not as green as the ones I’ve seen previously. I’m in awe that the tiny body, which appeared translucent, contains glycerol as an antifreeze compound. I did see numerous springtails bouncing about, so trust it had plenty of food upon which to prey. Again, my heart sang.


As I mentioned earlier, I continued to see moose tracks (not the ice cream, though it is one of my favorite Gifford flavors). And then a bed, about the size of three deer beds. And a lovely pile of scat right in it. Life is good.


Closer to home, I realized I was in snowshoe hare territory when I recognized the lobster-like shape of their prints.


They’d better watch out, and all voles and other little brown things should also be on the alert, for weasel prints also decorated the snow.


At last I was back home, and had to take a peek at those opossum prints one more time. Thanks again to the porcupine(s) that wander these woods, I celebrated wonder as I moved about. Except for Porky, one gray squirrel and a sharp-shinned hawk, I saw no others with whom I share these woods, but I was grateful to be their neighbor. To know that they roam as I do. In the words of Mr. Rogers, “It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood.” I’ll let him do the singing, from the song that rests within my heart today:

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?…

It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood,
A neighborly day for a beauty.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?…

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So, let’s make the most of this beautiful day.
Since we’re together we might as well say:
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?
Won’t you please,
Won’t you please?
Please won’t you be my neighbor?

12 thoughts on “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

  1. HI Leigh, Wow, another great blog. I am jealous of your tracking trips. I really miss having some snow cover to work with. Mud leaves great tracks, but it is often impossible to follow any creature very far.

    I just finished a book you might like: Meeting the Tree of Life A Teacher’s Path by John Tallmadge. It was published in1997 and may not be easy to find, but I found it enlightening.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Kevin, Snowing as I write. I’m always surprised at how much I see right out our door. We live on the edge–of town and wood. A wonder-filled place to be.

    Thanks for the book suggestion. I’ll have to look for it as the title intrigues me.

    Merry Christmas to you and Rita.


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