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Art, Nature, and Imagination February 12, 2013  |  By Jane Lavino

I recently had the pleasure of leading several groups of children on a snowshoe tour of the Museum’s Sculpture Trail. Once we solved the challenge of twisted, frozen snowshoe straps on child-sized boots, it was a joy to traipse along with these interested and enthusiastic explorers. The dark bronze sculptures stood out sharply against the glaring white snow. We circled Sandy Scott’s towering “Moose Flats” sculpture and marveled at how well adapted to walking in deep snow moose are with their long stilt-like legs and flexible shoulder joints.

Not far from the moose, we knelt down to examine tiny tracks that appeared in short scurrying bursts at intervals and then seemed to disappear into thin air. The kids guessed that a bird might have touched down, hopped a short distance, and then taken flight. The tracks, however, looked more like a small mammal’s. At the far end of the trail we stopped to stare up at Simon Gudgeon’s twelve-foot-tall “Isis” sculpture and made guesses about what kind of bird it was, and what it might be doing.

As we turned to leave, we saw slight movement and bent down to see a tiny, furry rodent trying its best to be invisible in a shallow pocket of snow. It was a vole, whose tunnel we had unknowingly collapsed with our tromping, preventing escape. We were delighted to meet, face to face, the maker of the small puzzling tracks seen earlier. The walk back took longer, as the children excitedly peered into every hole imagining squeaking, scurrying lives beneath the snow.

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