For me, November brings a pang of nostalgia that summer has passed and autumn is giving way to the winter. But November also bestows a few superpowers. With the freezing temperatures that turn marshes, streams, ponds and lakes to ice, I am able to walk on water, to traverse territory that was the purview of fish, amphibians and waterfowl during warmer months. Fresh ice is particularly beautiful, with air bubbles trapped in a glasslike suspended animation—a perfect surface for boot skating. And when the snow falls, I gain another superpower: the power to see what had been invisible—the tracks of animals. Deer, squirrels, wild turkeys, in the endless pursuit of food and shelter. In one of the most revealing stories have I read written in the snow, a line of squirrel tracks intersected with a set of impressively large wingprints and the deep impression of talons. The tracks and the small drop of blood in the snow told me the bird of prey ate well. And in the stillness that comes once the leaves have fallen, there’s a third superpower: the ability to hear my own heartbeat in the chill air.
Anne Marie Ruff Grewal is a writer, editor and environmentalist. She serves on the board of the Long Lake Waters Association and is the author of Beneath the Same Heaven – a story of love and terrorism.