Sunday, March 3, 2013

Hide and Seek in the Snow

When we have snow days, Zoe and I do all the typical things - build snowmen and forts, have snowball fights, go sledding - but there's something else that we always do when it snows. It's a bit like playing hide-and-seek, but we play it all throughout the woods, and to find the other person, we follow their footprints. Zoe's tricky; she always makes a bunch of loops so you're stuck wondering which trail to go down. But it's always fun, and when Zoe suggested it on Saturday, I eagerly agreed.

She instructed me to count to 100, made sure I had fully closed my eyes, then fled. For a few moments, I heard the crunch of her quickly fading footsteps, then silence. When I turned around, she had completely disappeared into the snow.

Her hurriedly made footprints seemed to be heading towards the woods, so I headed in that direction.

I reached the edge of the woods and found her footsteps leading up a rocky incline.

I climbed up after them, cursing myself for forgetting to wear gloves.

When I reached the top of the incline, I found that I had emerged into a cave of sorts. The pine boughs above me and on either side were weighed down with snow and formed a little shelter from the falling snow and wind.

Zoe's footprints continued under the branches and into a dense thicket of pine saplings and hemlocks. When I broke through the trees, I found that they formed a ring around a small clearing. The trees had grown above and to the sides of it so thickly that only a thin dusting of snow had fallen onto the ground.

I bent down to search for Zoe's footprints, and when I found a circular impression in the snow that looked as if it had been made by a shoe, I followed it without hesitation.

I hadn't gone more than about ten steps when I realized that the prints weren't Zoe's; when I looked closer, I found that the impression contained several divots that made me think it had been made by a paw as opposed to a shoe. My curiosity was aroused. The prints were fresh; what animal would I find if I followed them?

I stood there for a few moments, indecisive. Should I return to search for Zoe's prints, or follow those made by the animal? I probably would have stood there for a while longer had I not been suddenly doused with snow by a tree branch seeking to lighten its load. I looked up, startled, to search for my assailant, only to find Zoe clinging to a tree trunk while sitting astride a wide branch.

She slid down the trunk with a grumpy expression.
"Oh, you're no fun at all!" she said as she landed with a whump! on the pile of fresh powder at the base of her tree. "I made a whole complicated loop in the backyard and you just had to look up when you passed by!"
"Sorry," I said, grinning. "I lost your tracks in the snow over in that clearing, and followed these ones by mistake."
"Do you know what made them?" she asked, curious, her anger forgotten. She bent down to inspect them. "Let's follow them! They might have been made by a raccoon, or a fox!"

So we followed the tracks as they wound through the woods. It wasn't until we had almost completely circled the house that they led us to a little shelter, made from a pine bough pinned to the ground by a heavy drift of snow.

I peered down into the depths of the shelter, and let out a cry of surprise. Zoe came rushing up behind me to see what was the matter.

In that hollow, huddled in a little ball as protection against the cold, was none other than our Shiloh! I ran over to pick him up, and was startled to discover that he was limp, thin, and cold to the touch.

"Is he -" Zoe began. I shushed her. I put my ear down next to his mouth, and was relieved when I heard him breathing. Each one was much too shallow and quick, but at least he was alive.

Zoe and I hurried inside to get him warm. Little icicles had frozen into his fur and on his nose, and these we rubbed away with a towel. Once he was dry, I realized that there wasn't much else we could do for him. The storm had knocked out the phone lines and our cell phones got no reception around our house, so there was no way to call the vet. And there was no way to bring Shiloh to the vet either - the snow was falling faster than ever and Mom didn't want to risk it. Not wanting to do anything that might make him worse, I ended up laying Shiloh on a blanket in front of the fire. Zoe and I sat next to him for the whole evening, feeling helpless and worried.

Now it's Sunday night, and he hasn't gotten any better. Mom promised us that she'll bring him to the animal hospital first thing tomorrow, but right now tomorrow seems far away. I don't want to leave him, afraid of what we'll find in the morning.

I guess that's all for now. Thanks for reading!


  1. Dia duit!

    YOU FOUND SHILOH! He HAS to get better! It's a good thing you found him when you did! I think you got to him just in time!

    ~ Saoirse

    1. Hi Saoirse!

      Let's hope so! Mom took him to the vet today, where he'll be staying overnight, so she can "keep him under observation". She says he'll be fine, he'll just have to take it easy for a while. Neither of us cares - we'll just be glad to have him home!

      Hope to see you soon! We haven't seen you guys since July...

      - Charlotte & Zoe :)

  2. YAY YAY YAY SHILOH! I'm so glad you found him! I just know he's going to get better! You guys are so lucky! I agree with Saoirse; it looks like you found him just in time. I wonder what's going to happen when he meets Ginger...

    I'm so glad you found him!

    1. Hi Dani!

      We're really glad, too! I guess, like that kitten you told us about, that pets can come home again even after three months! I'm curious as to how Ginger will respond to him - they are, after all, different genders... Maybe we should be expecting some mutant puppies sometime soon! :)

      - Charlotte & Zoe