I just got back from an evening walk on the Mohawk Towpath Byway. It is a beautiful night with close-to-full moon. The ski is clear and you can just feel the radiational cooling taking place in preparation for our first significant snow fall. There’s very little traffic, as everyone seems to be in a frenzy preparing for the coming holidays.
The quiet is surprising and unexpected, just the rhythmic sound of sneakers on pavement. The amphibians are all well burrowed into the rich mud and the warm-blooded creatures only venture out to gather more food.
Suddenly off to my right I am startled by a large animal sloshing through the wetland. It has to be a deer. There are plenty around. He must have heard me coming and stopped his grazing or foraging to determine if I was friend or foe. Unaware of being watched I just walk on. When I pass, the deer must have felt safe continuing his movement through the standing water and thin-film of ice. The ice is what seems to make the most noise as the chrystine, thin sheets break up with the passing animal. Even though the moon casts enough light so I can see the road ahead like mid day I can’t see the deer in the wooded underbrush with the dark water background. The deer stops when I stop, no movement, no rhythmic plodding just the moonlit night and a million stars.
I moved on to observe whatever else might be out on a cold, crisp evening. But other than a distant light in a farmhouse nothing captured my curiosity like, why would a deer be out grazing in a wet land a couple of hours after sunset?
See what you can discover on the Byway after the sun has set. From cultural events and performances, shopping, ice skating, maybe later this week cross country skiing, there’s always something going on.
If you are out and about after dark on the Byway remember to dress in light or reflective colors so you can be seen. Take a light. Dress warmly with many layers. I make a point of wearing a reflective vest and one or two reflective wrist/ankle bands (pictured above) available for the asking. Drop a self-addressed, stamped envelope in the mail to Mohawk Towpath Byway, P O Box 90, Clifton Park, N Y 12065. We will mail you one.