Snow Vole

For You have been a strength to the poor, A strength to the needy in his distress, A refuge from the storm,   Isaiah 25:4

Whilst hiking a short time ago, I came across the above pictured vole. He was doing his best to ride out a snowstorm that swirled around him, but it appeared to me he might be on the losing side of things. About two feet of ice and snow were under him. The top crust of ice that he was huddled on seemed a bit too much for him to dig through to make it back to the relative warmth of the ground below.

I don’t know a whole lot about voles, but as you can see, they are pretty well equipped for the cold. They don’t have long ears or a long snoot that can be a source of heat loss. They are pretty compact, and have a very thick fur coat. But it looked as if these advantages may have met their match. The vole was far from shelter, and had the sharp wind blowing ice and snow against him.

I’m not quite sure why this fellow chose to climb up out of his warm burrow at this particular time, unless it was for me to take his picture and share it with you. His tracks led back to a clump of dried grass sticking out of the snow. He hadn’t returned to his burrow, so he may have lost his way in the storm.

Voles don’t live very long, usually less than a year or two. Although the one pictured above was very much alive when I saw him, I doubt he would have lived through the day considering the predicament he’d gotten himself into. Not well liked by farmers, voles can wreak havoc on pasture and cropland. In the food chain, the little critters can be found in the diets of hawks, owls, snakes, coyotes, and bobcats. Some larger predators will consume voles as well, especially when food supplies are low.

After studying this fellow for a bit, I didn’t think the life of one vole in the vast expanse of the mountains which I hike would tip the ecological scale one way or the other. So I dug a deep hole through the ice and snow. Then I lifted the rather surprised vole from his icy perch and set him at the bottom of the hole. Last I saw, he was curling up in a tight little ball as I covered him with about two feet of insulating snow.

Perhaps he never lived through the day anyway. Or perhaps he had a tale to tell his friends that will live on in vole folklore for many years to come.

Either way, as the Scripture above states, I am grateful for all the times the Lord has been a refuge for me when I’ve gotten lost and couldn’t find my way.

Hope you have a great day.

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