I love the stories you can find, and imagine, in the winter woods. Tracks of animals are so real and definite: this animal put this foot HERE, then this other foot HERE. The biggest thrill for me is finding fresh wolf tracks, like here on a ski trail outside Ely.
The tracks led off the groomed ski trail and into the woods. I could easily picture the one wolf loping off through the trees, followed by a few pack members along the same path.
To me, a wolf blesses a place. I've never actually seen a wolf when I'm on foot in the woods. To know that a wolf was here, just walking by, makes a place far more wild and more special. Sure wolf are running across the highway or in a cage at the Wolf Center. Here they are at home, at leisure, walking through the woods.
It is this appreciation of wildness that I've hoped to bring to my family.
Seeing wolf tracks reminds me of the German word for wolf track. "Wolf" is the same in both languages, but then you add a grammatic koan, an abbreviation of the past participle of the word "to go." It's pronounced almost like "gong". You end up with a familiar name, the first name of the composer Mozart.
Wolfgang. I actually proposed this as the name for our first-born. Sort of in honor of music and our German heritage, but mostly as a reminder of wild places.
Instead we have Hans, and he is way more of a Hans than a Wolfgang, and I couldn't imagine him with any other name.
Plus which, Hans still likes to make his own paths through the snow: