Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Snow, again.
The heaviest single accumulation of our winter, by my recollection. Still, only 3 inches--fluffy and light in the cold, cold 19-degree morning.
Despite my dreams of an early spring, the lure of walking through fresh snow at first light made me reach for my boots and heavy jacket.

At the edge of the field, I came across the tracks of our fox again and followed them back into the woods. Winding through the undergrowth, I followed his path of footsteps past the mighty old oak, and over small bubbling creeks--almost as far as the field beyond. A large fallen tree stopped me abruptly. The fox had gone over—and onward. I decided my trail ended there.
Last night’s storm had begun earlier in the day as rain, changing to snow which fell quickly as we slept. Even in the woods, the wind had carried the snow, deeply blanketing everything. But, beneath this log, the brown ground was dry and leafy. A fresh, strong skunky smell made me wonder if someone had crawled in for shelter from the wintry night—or perhaps was still there. I decided it best not to investigate further, and walked on, toward home.

Later in the day, I heard from a friend.
In last night’s storm, her husband had gone outside to check on the cat as they always do before locking up for the night.
Reaching his hand into her shelter to be sure she was there and say, “Goodnight,” he was badly bitten on the hand.
Kitty had not been able to snuggle into her little house last night—a raccoon had beaten her to its snug, warm interior.

The winter night is hard on all.

Wood Pool in winter

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Mary said...

Nina, how frightening for your friend! I hope the kitty is safe.

Your walk through the fresh fallen snow makes me feel so adventurous - if only I could have some of it...

You must be tired of it by now and I understand. I'm tired of winter, too, but I think if I could see the beauty of a snowfall, it wouldn't be too bad :o)

You probably think I'm nuts.

NW Nature Nut said...

I just read another favorite blog with beautiful raccoon photos ( I was remembering my dog getting in a tangle with one last spring. They are beautiful wild creatures, but mean. Hope your friend is okay.

Lynne said...

Yikes- I hope your friend got some medical treatment for that bite. A rehabber friend was bitten by a raccoon once and it turned serious quickly.

I think I read somewhere that fox urine has a very strong, skunky odor.

Your description of the snow in the woods is peaceful.

Trixie said...

Hi Nina! Are you up for an informal Birds 'n" Beers when I fly south? If so email me at trixiebop AT

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Hi Nina,

We got some of that snow too. My walk about is very short comparitively but most interesting none the less.

We had a skunk in the back yard this week too. They must think spring is around the corner. I hope they are right.

Selma said...

You make a walk in the snow so magical. I felt like I was there with you.

Sandpiper's Place said...

Wonderful walk! I hope your friend gets medical care. The possibility of rabies is always something to consider.

nina said...

He's already started treatment for rabies--yesterday's ER visit included, among other things, 14 shots (antibiotics, too).
Over the course of the next 28 days, he has several more visits and shots every few days.
What a nasty experience!

And although the raccoon seems the one at fault here, he's not, really. Just needed a place to crawl into on a winter's stormy night.

nina said...

Lynne--hmmm. Maybe the fox was just marking an area?
I would be thrilled to think he settled back there somewhere!

Anonymous said...

What a dreadful encounter with that raccoon, but what a serene landscape we enjoyed, via your winter trek... Deb

Old Wom Tigley said...

Another great post Nina.. I hope that bitten hand is O.K. what a shock that must have been

April said...

Very nice pictures of the fluffy snow. Positive thought - still going towards to spring.

Cathy said...

I just read this aloud to my hubby. His expletive deleted remark echoed mine. 'Ouch' doesn't quite cover it. Does that mean a rabies' concern?

mon@rch said...

It is stunning to get out and enjoy nature, even with the heavy snow that falls. I am very sorry to hear about your friend who was bitten by the Raccoon! ugg!

cestoady said...

Cathy: Good question. Answer: It depends.
Because a wild anmal bites,does not automatically mean that it is rabid.Rabid animals behave abnormally --attack people,bite for no apparent reason, are fearless. This raccoon was peacefully resting in a warm nest until disturbed by a strange hand reaching in to pet/hold (?) it. Any wild animal would defend itself and bite the intruding hand -- perfectly normal behavior.

On the other hand,had the raccoon somehow gotten in the house and attacked people or was found wandering and "tame" on the porch --- that would be a different story. Beware of such animals!!

Was it a rabid raccoon ?-- I doubt it. Was it prudent to treat it as if it WAS rabid ? Here's where the " it depends" comes in. It is well to remember that once a person has the symptoms of rabies,the outcome is almost always fatal. It is irreversible and essentially untreatable. And if one does survive,which is very,very rare,the person will not lead a normal life, so severe is the damage to the brain.

So ,to be on the safe side -- treat as if the animal was rabid and put up with the discomfort of the series of shots. The only way to know if that was the " right " course of action is to get that raccoon and look at its brain to see if it was indeed rabid. Technically speaking , that would have been the "right" thing to do to confirm whether or not there was a rabid animal in the vicinity (because there may be more) . Based on the outcome of that brain examination, one can then better judge the course of medical treatment for rabies.

kate said...

Now as winter is nearing an end, I go from enjoying the snow because it does look beautiful (and I like the crunchy sounds of it), to wanting it all to go really fast.

The raccoon must have felt cornered, poor thing. And your friend, poor guy, having to go through rabies treatment.

Cathy said...

Oh, I see. He's getting the shots. That is 'ouch'. Bummer.