Along about sunset I took Molly for a walk across the field, which has a little bit of a roll to it. The rolling terrain and the long shadows cast by the windbreak make for a real pretty walking out. Near the house, heading north, all is in shade, but a few hundred yards ahead the sun lights up the field with a dusky yellow light that gladdens you just to look at it.
The dog always starts out with a leaping gait, bounding high all four feet off the ground, springing ahead like deer bouncing away. Then she settles into a gallop and circles back around me before heading out at a more business-like trot, soaking up the local sniffage. She'll pause at the brush pile for the scent of bunnies. She'll spring off into the weeds at the rustle of a field mouse. Today, when she settled down, she enjoyed walking on the crusted snow.
I lumbered along, breaking through with every step, looking for the easier passage on the shallow side of the drifts. Molly has a lighter step and she's learned to walk out across the surface without breaking the crust and dropping shoulder deep into the snow.
We walked out into the light of the setting sun and saw a couple of car loads of bunny hunters calling it a day up by the public hunting ground. I doubt they had much luck. They've scared all the bunnies down to our place. Maybe they were out attorney hunting, or looking for crows.
I heard the washboard scrawking sound of a Sandhill Crane from the west. It took me a minute to locate him. There were a couple of small flocks of Canada geese up there too. The crane flew west to east just south of us, calling over and over, his call echoing off the lake. He dropped out of sight behind the trees east of the barn, on a long glide path toward his nest somewhere out in the marsh. It was twenty degrees or so, but with the light breeze it felt more like zero. Since the crane had turned me around towards home, we headed back. Coming out of the field around the end of the windbreak, Molly paused to be leashed. I snapped the lead on her and we ran up the yard into the house where we made our report regarding the first crane of 2006.