EVELYN LABORED AS she shuffled through the knee-deep snow. She scooted on the surface with her snowshoes and struggled under the weight of her easel, camp chair, backpack and art box. She had driven for an hour to
After an exhausting fifteen minute trek from her car, she panted heavily as she scanned her surroundings. She dropped her camp chair and art box in the snow on a plateau overlooking the lake, then set up her easel beside them. She removed her backpack and set it beside the art box, then scooped the snow away with the inside of her foot to make a small clearing where she could sit. She unfolded her camp chair and set it up in front of her easel.
She reached into her backpack and pulled out her thermos. After pouring a cup of hot chocolate, she studied the landscape for several minutes before she’d mentally framed the portion of the lake that she wanted to paint. With her finished painting vividly burned into her mind, she eagerly went to work laying down a thin, light-gray winter sky across the top of her canvass.
The cold was tolerable beneath the layers of winter clothing and the gentle north wind nibbled at the exposed skin on Evelyn’s face. She put down her brush and pulled her facemask over her face, then went back to painting.
Evelyn loved the crisp air and sounds of nature. Just over the embankment by the lake were some trees. Anxious ravens hopped around the branches and chastised something in the lake. After several minutes of chaos, Evelyn decided to see what the ravens were so excited about.
She put her brush in a cup of thinner and refilled her thermos cup. She didn’t want to alarm the ravens, so she eased cautiously to the edge of the embankment as she sipped her hot chocolate.
The ravens paid her little attention. They were aware of her close proximity, but felt safe in the branches. To Evelyn’s shock, she discovered that the ravens were harassing a pack of wolves in the shallow water of the lakeshore.
She stopped abruptly and cautiously pulled her facemask up over her forehead as she studied the wolves. She had never known them to be aggressive toward man, so she felt safe watching them from a distance.
One stopped and lowered its head menacingly as it fixed its attention on her. When it was sure that she had no intention of taking its food, it returned to dismembering the carcass.
Evelyn was a native Canadian and quite familiar with the brutality of nature, so the sight of wolves feeding on a kill didn’t repulse her. She was, however, aware of the unpredictability of wild carnivores and didn’t want to push her luck.
One of the wolves had grown tired of the snarling, nipping and posturing associated with the jockeying for position in the hierarchal feeding order. It had rolled over on its back and exposed its throat submissively to the dominant members several times before it had managed to maneuver close enough to feed. It hurriedly ripped off a large piece of the carcass and carried it away to feed on it alone. Evelyn gasped when she saw that the piece was a section of ribcage and neck. Since it was not covered in fur, she knew it was not a deer, bear or moose.
The ashy-grey color of the carcass baffled her. When another subordinate member of the pack ripped off a piece and ran, Evelyn could see the arm and hand of a human dangling from the wolf’s mouth.
Overwhelming shock made her weak. She dropped her cup and covered her mouth as she screamed and back-peddled a few feet, tripping over a log and falling backward. She had always believed that wolves weren’t predatory on humans, but now she wasn’t so sure. They had obviously killed this one.
Panic overtook her as she realized that she might be next. She scrambled to her feet and shuffled as fast as she could through the snow. As she reached her easel she cried hysterically and clumsily tried to gather her art equipment, then realized that she could move faster without the extra weight. She abandoned her equipment and knocked over the chair and easel as she ran toward her car.
As exhaustion drained her strength she looked over her shoulder expecting to see a pack of snarling man-eaters in hot pursuit. To her great relief she was alone on the trail. The wolves were apparently not willing to abandon the kill to the ravens just to chase her. She ripped her face-mask off her head and cried uncontrollably as she staggered to her car.