The sun doesn't crest the hills 'til around 10 am, but once it does, it's a brilliant day. The trees stand shrouded in snow against a clear blue sky. It's cold today; the air warms to -35 C with whatever heat it can pull from the weak sun.
I haven't had the dogs out in a couple of days, so after lunch I pack the babe onto my back and we set out into the woods.
The trees are lit in a golden light, it hits them at close to a 90 degree angle; the sun is not high in the sky. It is quiet but for the crunch of my snowshoes on the trail. The dogs are far ahead, and Aedan has fallen asleep nestled down in our parka.
I come over a small rise and see the dogs up ahead, sniffing madly at something on the trail. As I approach, I see scattered tufts of fur. It is pale brown, white and soft grey. Suddenly, my walk takes on a sinister note. I scan around for tracks, for sign of the struggle, but I see only old, criss-crossing snowshoe hare tracks, and the clumsy wallows of my small dogs in the deeper snow.
The dogs disappear up ahead again, and I continue on, thinking that perhaps I am not the only predator to prowl along this path.
The silence of the forest is not so peaceful now: it takes on a new depth, seeming almost deliberate. What creatures watch me from the acres of brush and shadows all around? Every so often I stop, convinced I hear something creeping along behind me, its steps concealed beneath the noise of my snowshoes. I hold my breath and hear nothing.
Smaller trees are bent low under the weight of the undisturbed snow; they look like weird gnomes and mythical beasts frozen in time, or some bizarre topiary gone wild. Walls of spruce and gnarled old willow spring up in my path: the forest conspires to lead me astray. I stop again, listening. For a moment, the conspicuous silence presses around me. Then, the dog's bark echoes back to me. The baby wakes up and begins to cry. The path opens up again before me. I double back on my trail and we hurry home.