The raven and wolf video was taken Friday afternoon soon after I arrived at camp to start the fire and get the cabin heated up for the weekend. Inside temperature was about -20 so I was still fully dressed from my snowmobile ride out when I saw through the window these two racing around on the frozen lake, the raven flying low over the wolf, just out of his reach, and the wolf jumping like a dog trying to catch a frisbee.
Once in a while the raven would land 20 feet from the wolf and wait for it to lunge, then take up the game again.
I've seen similar behavior in the summer when adult birds are trying to distract predators and lead them away from nests or young ones. I'm not sure what was happening here. It's nice to think they were two buddies enjoying an afternoon romp.
The only camera I had was in a case on my belt under about six layers of winter clothing. It took quite a while to get to it. An onlooker might have surmised I was an escapee from a bawdy house raid as I stumbled out the door onto the deck with coveralls down around my ankles, outer shirt ripped open, vest unzipped and flapping in the breeze, hair touselled like Stan Laurel at his homeliest, camera waving overhead as I tried to steady myself for a picture.
By then the game had stopped and the two pals were engaged in a stare-down, before the wolf slowly walked away, forlornly glancing back every once in awhile at the raven sitting stoically in the snow. It's a feeling I remember from the day I was spurned by my first girl friend in elementary school.
A CHRISTMAS FEAST
A wondrous feast occurred a few days before Christmas in the Grand Dining Room, attended by 30 guests. Late in the afternoon they gathered around the table, shrouded in a snow white cloth, the centerpiece framed by balsam boughs and the brilliant red that could have been the scattered petals of ten dozen roses.
I left camp among the little flocks of birds feeding on suet and sunflower seeds at the feeder for the snowmobile ride to town, 15 minutes away.
Two hundred yards down the lake I passed the home of our neighbors of the last five years – a pair of Ravens with their nest high in the tallest spruce tree on the point.
Along the way my packed trail was intersected by the tracks of wolves, foxes, deer, moose, and rabbits. Sometimes the tracks crossed the trail, sometimes they followed along the trail for a way before launching off to head for the forest.
Inside the tree cover would be a squirrel huddled with his fur fluffed among sheltered branches, a wolf curled cozily into the snow under a fallen tree sleeping off last night’s hunt, a deer leisurely nipping the bud ends of cedar and pine trees, a fox weaving through the tangles, alert for a crouching rabbit or nervous grouse.
I visited the Grand Dining Room, but nothing much was visible right then. Behind the scenes, preparations were coming together for the feast, but the room wasn’t yet decked out.
Three hours later, town project completed, I dressed for the cold ride back to camp in the hazy winter sunlight of late afternoon.
One hour before that, a sleek, soft doe browsing on sweet balsam buds quickly raised her head, cocked her ears in the direction of an almost silent sound, flared her nostrils, snorted, stomped and bolted like a race horse out of the starting gate, white tail waving.
Close behind, running like a hurricane, was the wolf that had snapped the tiny twig moments before.
Once on the open lake, the meal preparation began in the way of the wolves.
My trail ride took me close to The Grand Dining Room. Thirty or more ravens were sharing fresh venison with the wolf that hosted the dinner. It was a glorious sight and an obviously delicious meal.
I pondered, during the rest of my ride to camp, whether I had just witnessed a happy event, or a sad one. There’s no question it was a dramatic affair.
Later, inside the warm cabin, wine in hand, facing the flames of a fine pine-log fire, I concluded that it’s a matter of perspective.