Its late January and we’ve been getting hit with cold and snow pretty consistently for a couple of months now. Taking the dog for a walk has become an exercise in endurance for both of us — and that’s on the days where she doesn’t just run out, do her business and then make a bee line back to the door. Cabin fever has set in.
Don’t get me wrong, I love winter. I would much rather be dealing with temperatures on the southern end of 70 degrees, wind chill or not. Pulling on a pair of thermals under my pants is no big hardship to me. And living in that big, bulky hoodie for a few months? I welcome it. But what do to on those days when you’re tired of being cooped up and you feel like if your dog runs a circle around the room one more time you just might hog-tie her and hang her from the ceiling fan?
I slap on one more layer of clothes, grab the long leash and take the dog on some nature trails. In the spring and summer we love to hit Shawnee Lookout and we’ve been to the Cincinnati Nature Center. But this time I wanted something different. I’ve been looking at pictures from Yellowstone National Park lately and it got me thinking. Why not go see one of Kentucky’s own geological masterpieces? So last weekend we headed to Big Bone Lick State Park.
All right, we’ll pause here for a minute. Yes, I said Big Bone Lick. I know, so many jokes. I had been living in Kentucky for almost a year before I realized there was such a place. So I asked a friend who grew up here what, exactly, is a big bone lick?
“Its … a lick. … A land formation. …I don’t know,” is the response I got.
Well, the story behind Big Bone Lick, according to the park service, is once upon a time millions of years ago it was a marsh that drew all sorts of big animals to feed around the mineral deposits in the area – in this case, salt. Then those big animals died and left their big bones behind. Actually, nothing specifically said where the “big bone” part of the name came from, but scientists were pulling enormous bones out of the earth for several decades, so its not a far stretch. (Anyone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong on any of these points.)
So, its one big salt lick that used to have some big dinosaur bones in it. Bison have been reintroduced to the area, and we even have a sulfur spring. (Take that, Yellowstone.)
So, bright and early last Sunday morning I set out with the dog and my dad to get a little nature and exercise. As the humans trudged through the couple of inches of snow on the ground to get back to the bison herd, the hound darted back and forth, taking full advantage of the 16 feet afforded to her by the retractable leash. And I realized another thing to love about snow: It reveals to me the tracks of animals that Emme is attempting to hunt down. Instead of me just rolling my eyes as she runs to and fro, I can see the rabbit and deer tracks crisscrossing the path. So while Emme busied herself hunting wabbits, I had some fun taking pictures of snow tracks.
And of course once we got to the bison, my little 40-pound, hound dog mutt thought she should have a crack at one of them. She barked at the bison, pulled on the leash and pawed at the ground until I swear I saw one of the giant beasts roll his eyes at her.