Mother Nature has been kind to the inhabitants of our small part of the planet this winter. She placed us all at the centre of this virus storm, probably in an act of rebellion for the disrespect we have shown the planet. But now she she seems to be relenting by offering us a winter of inestimable beauty.
There is snow – lots of it – for skiing, sledding, show shoeing or just walking. The scenery is a photographer’s dream. I’ve seen stunning photos of wintry landscapes, a magnificent snowy owl, and horses gleefully cantering in the snow, leaving a trail of powdery snow dust behind them.
Recently we went snow shoeing at a nature park. The trail was a pristine carpet of white, bordered by dark-green fir trees on either side, as if a giant garland was wrapped around it. As we walked, I spotted a pileated woodpecker up ahead. (This might make me sound smart, but I knew the bird by its simpler French name, “Grand Pic”. “Grand” means big in French because this species is much larger than others in the woodpecker family. I had to look up the English translation.)
The woodpecker had latched onto the trunk of one of the trees, his scarlet-red crest adding a splash of bright colour to the scenery. His beak hammered repeatedly at the trunk, the sound echoing in the silence of the forest.
Ben was behind me and I signaled him to stop so we could watch from a distance without scaring him away. After a few minutes, we inched forward until we were facing him. Slowly, Ben took out his cell phone and took a few steps off the trail and into the deep snow closer to the tree. The bird wasn’t at all daunted. He accepted our presence as if we were other woodland friends like Bambi or Thumper. Ben snapped a few pictures which did not do justice to the handsome fellow and then we moved on, leaving him to continue foraging for his dinner.
The moment reminded us that we are privileged to share this planet with such beautiful creatures. Maybe that was Mother Nature’s plan all along.