The early morning walks loosen up my muscles and jiggle the little gray cells. Cold mornings are especially refreshing. And we see and hear things that most people miss by sleeping in or just stirring in their homes at these hours. (Although we do note the same people that pass us each weekday morning in the dark on their way to work).
Just this morning we had a new sighting in the stonewall that parallels Bald Hill Road: a white weasel. We first noticed the shine from its tiny, round eyes poking out from the stonewall. In the early morning light we could see its sleek, all-white body (we could not see the tail, which is black-tipped). Only once before have we seen a weasel along our walks -- that was a brown weasel in summer; it too was peeking out from a stonewall. Both weasels found in this area -- the ermine and the long-tailed weasel -- turn white in winter and are difficult to tell apart. It is fine with me to know simply that it was one of these two, incredibly handsome weasels.
On clear mornings this week, as we walked south on Bald Hill Road, we looked skyward at the alignment of stars and planets. Venus and Jupiter were shining bright, bracketing the more subtle light of Saturn and Mars. Mercury was there somewhere in the southeast, but too low on the horizon for us to see. On these pre-dawn walks we witness first light on the eastern horizon, sometimes colorful in shades of pink and blue, sometimes gray and somber. Always, we welcome a new day.
We see fresh tracks of coyote, fox, and fisher where they've crossed the road. Sometimes in the distance a great horned owl hoots or a pair of barred owls call back and forth. Sometimes we hear coyotes yelping.
As the dark sky recedes and dawn emerges we arrive back home, remarking on the beauty of the day, especially when we've caught sight of a white weasel.