Winter has arrived, the lake is frozen, the temperature is 12 degrees with an intense wind plummeting the temperature close to zero. The snow that covered the ice, protection from the suns blinding glare, is being coaxed by Mariah into huge snow ghosts whirling their way amongst the tree adorned islands, playing hide and seek with their human observers.
ln the backdrop looms the Belknap mountains, silhouetted in dark charcoal gray against a clear ice blue sky. The fragrant scent of wood smoke permeates the crispy air for those warriors brave enough to challenge the icy blanket of winter's cloak by venturing outside.
The palate of the lake, its surface reflecting shades of subtle white, some snow and ice now married by the freezing temperatures, invites a small drama at the very center of its framework.
There's a group of small creatures, and one very large creature way out in the middle of this canvas, indistinguishable with the naked eye...just some dark shadows congregated in a small area. Binoculars identify 5 or 6 small crows or blackbirds, hopping up and down with wings flapping or flying a few feet up into the air above their concentrated target, the hapless creature who is binocular identified as the meal of the larger creature...the resident Bald Eagle.
He has found nourishment...but it's hard to distinguish the species of its doomed victim. At first it appeared to be a fish, but the lake is frozen, so that cannot be. The blackbirds are harassing the Eagle, hoping for a tidbit to ease the hunger chaffing their bellies, but the Eagle is not sharing....just a turn of his huge white head, adorned with that sharp, curved bright yellow beak, feathers ruffled by the wind, is enough to send them scurrying up into the sky and away from any implied danger.
Last week, the water along the shore of the lake was frozen, but still with open water available some distance out. One morning, there appeared out on the ice, a beautiful Otter, adorned with winter thickened fur, about 5 feet long, accelerating his speed towards the open water. He scurried out to the edge of the ice, presumably for a drink of water or perhaps to get lucky and catch a tasty fish for breakfast.
For whatever reason, he conducted his business and quickly scurried back towards the shore where he climbed up over the rocks and under the deck located at the center of Summerhawk cottages where he must live during the harsh winters. Was the Otter the focus of the meal the Eagle was enjoying ...... with growing concern, the adjustments on the binoculars were getting a workout trying to identify the Eagle's victim?
At one point, the Eagle, with its prey firmly clutched in its claws, spread its wings and lified a few feet up into the air, prompted by the return of the persistent blackbirds that kept coming in closer and closer, hoping to grasp a bite of the Eagles meal, There were four legs dangling from the carcass hanging below the claws of the protective Eagle, ascertaining it was most definitely not a fish, but smaller than Summerhawk's resident Otter, thank goodness.
It could have been a hapless racoon, muskrat, large squirrel or some other doomed critter that wandered out onto that vast white plane, making it a target for our resident Red Tailed Hawk or the magnificent Bald Eagle. No wonder that our Otter was in one heck of a hurry to conduct his business out there and return to the safety of his home under the deck.
Mother Nature is a powerful being, at times presenting we humans with magnificent, breath taking beauty and other times with tragic consequences, she is a force to be reckoned with!