Back when the dog was young, we would take early morning walks on a path that led under some red mulberry trees. One summer morning as we approached the trees, we surprised a large groundhog foraging for dropped berries. The dog instantly lunged – this was her first sighting of a groundhog – and the groundhog bolted under a nearby shed. It never reappeared, but her expectations never changed. For the next 12 years, every time we walked past this spot, her ears would prick forward, she would sniff intently at the pavement, and look toward the shed. It was a lifelong predatory habit born of one exciting moment.
A year or so ago, Dan and I took a walk down the Red Run trail, a path I take regularly. As we approached the bridge, Dan pointed to the bank. “What is that?” I grabbed my camera and took a few quick shots. The blurry photos revealed a mink – a thrilling first sighting of an animal that, while common, is very elusive.
Like the dog with her first groundhog, I have since approached the Red Run bridge anticipating a mink. 40 times or more over the past year I have crossed that bridge, each time scanning up and downstream with my camera ready, in the grip of the predatory habit.
Crossing the bridge today, the habit paid off.