I love wintertime, especially when we have a good layer of snow. It is great insulation for the den and makes for fantastic adventures. The snowfall has been heavy for the last two weeks and large drifts cover the north bank of the river. The boys love the snow too, with its frosty crunch and powdery flakes. Bobby hounded Mr. Otter for days to take a family trek; so yesterday all five of us ventured out, under a clear sky, towards Effie’s home.
Mr. Otter led the way, followed by me and the three boys, single file. Our pace was a rhythmic bound twice, slide once pattern that allowed us to gain considerable distance without much effort. These types of family outings are a common occurrence, and I enjoy them greatly, unless the boys misbehave.
Under normal circumstances, a short bark from me can keep the boys in check. Though there are times I may have to shout. Mr. Otter rarely shouts. Samuel is the kindest of gentle otters and usually holds his temper down to a stern warning. Half way into our journey, the boys broke up the pattern to run ahead over the open snow. I was unable to stop them with a scolding, and Mr. Otter came to the rescue with one of those rare displays of anger.
“Stop right there!” he roared. All three boys skidded to a stop and collided into a large fluffy heap. Three terrified faces peaked out from the jumbled ball of pups. “How many times do I have to tell you not to run ahead?” he continued. “There are dangers beneath the snow. Do you know the difference between running on snow-covered ground and running on snow-covered ice? I think not, or you would have slowed your pace.”
We caught up to the boys and Mr. Otter gave them a hard glare as he passed. I simply walked past them without looking, but I could hear them blame each other when we were back in formation.
“Thanks a lot,” one said.
“It’s not my fault. He started it,” another argued.
“I guess no dessert tonight,” Bobby added.
I knew it was Bobby, because he is always the first to ask for dessert after dinner. I had to agree with his conclusion; Mr. Otter was now in a sour mood.
We continued toward a large drift near some trees and made our way back into the forest. I watched Mr. Otter crunch through the snow with difficulty now. It was deeper and sliding became impossible in the loose snow. He bounded a few times and suddenly disappeared from view with a soft whoosh sound, followed by, “Umpf!”
“Oh, dear!” I cried. “Samuel, are you alright?”
I barely heard his muffled voice from under the snow say, “I’m not hurt, but I don’t think I can climb out of this hole. Watch how close you come, the snow is really deep here.” I watched the snow in front of me mound up and then sink as he tried to dig his way out. The sunken trail moved towards a tree where Mr. Otter’s head poked out of the snow as he climbed up the branches.
He looked at me with frosted whiskers and said, “Oh there you are. I guess I got a little turned around.” He climbed up the rest of the way and gingerly made his way back to us. “See boys, that’s why you don’t run ahead.”
I smiled and gave him a hug, “I am so glad you didn’t get hurt. I don’t know if I could handle these three without you.”
Benjamin carefully scooted up to us and asked, “Gee Dad, were you scared?”
“No,” Mr. Otter said. “But I don’t relish doing it again. Let’s walk around the drifts from now on.”
We made it to Effie’s home without any other difficulties,but we made sure to take the long route, along the river, on our return home.