|An icy grotto along Indian Creek, Red River Gorge, Kentucky. (c) 1990, by RLMT (author).|
She has not eaten today. Her snarling belly is tucked up tight against her spine, too close for comfort. The ground is frozen, the sky hanging dull and heavy with promise of snow or ice that may prevent hunting food by morning. Gone are the blackberries that hung ripe in the thickets just a few scant weeks ago; they would have made a welcome nibble or two. She knows better than to look for pawpaws or even persimmons this time of year, as it is far, far too cold for the one, and the opossums have a virtual monopoly on the other as soon as it frosts and the fruit turns sweetly from its puckering tart pre-ripe state. Checking the farmer’s plowed ground for leftover edibles proves useless, searching out possible scraps tossed out only earns her the warning of the farm dogs, who do not like her scent on a good day. Only the faint remnant of bacon smell wafts in her direction, coming directly off the dogs themselves; they have eaten all the scraps tossed out, needing the calories themselves in this chilly weather.