I am not afraid.
Though maybe I should be, for I am walking with wolves.
Not literally, or course, but we are on the same trail. I know this because I frequently see their tracks along the snow-covered isolated road that I hike in northern Wisconsin. My road is also abuzz with the prints of deer, snowshoe rabbit, and fox, but it is the wolf that interests me most.
Sometime during the pre-dawn hours, the wolves have left their striding tracks like clues in a mystery novel for me to discover. And if I am lucky enough to come upon their trail, I feel as thrilled as if I am following the Pied Piper on some mystical journey.
Usually, there is only one wolf track, but on this frost-sparkled morning, a second wolf with smaller paws has exited the deep snow of the woods to join her friend. The two sets of wolf tracks parallel each other down the road like buddies on a walk, and as I follow along, I feel as though I have joined them in the bond of companionship.
Every now and then, however, I stop and scan the forest to see if a wolf might be watching me, but there is only the flicker of light and shadow amongst the emerald pines and bare-branched forest.
Historically, I know that wolves do not attack humans, and so even though our paths are crossing closely, I have no fear. In fact, I find it rather comforting to know such wild, intelligent creatures are willing to share their beautiful woodland home with me.
And to show my appreciation, I sometimes offer up my own wolf howl as a greeting. Who knows? They just might answer back in the spirit of peace.
PHOTO CREDIT: MARNIE O. MAMMINGA