Making tracks

The winter that I moved from the city to the country, I became preoccupied with the warm glow of windows dotting the dark winter landscape. In each of these windows, I thought, are stories – some of comfort and joy, others of loneliness and despair, all of them nuanced and unique.  The magnitude of these unknowable stories overwhelmed me.


And then I imagined that behind one window lived a bear who had traveled from her apartment in the city to her cabin the country to hibernate. I imagined that this bear woke up one morning to a snow covered landscape and was chuffed at the prospect of experiencing winter for the first time in her life. Then I imagined her discovering how very lonely winter can be without a friend. 

A glowing window beckons, but if you are not invited inside, the outdoors become very cold, indeed.

In my imaginings of Bear, she decides to hibernate again, but on her way back to her cabin, she comes across tracks, which she follows, and they lead her to Hedgehog – he, too, is supposed to be asleep, but isn’t. Bear and Hedgehog’s shared outsider status makes them fast friends.

This got me thinking about tracks. tracks_eliana_7

Tracks are clues to what is happening in the natural world. You can “read” tracks in snow, on mud, in sand, even in wet marks on pavement, to know who or what was recently there. You can make your own artistic tracks by way of the instructions below. You’ll become familiar with the tracks you create and then you will be able to identify them if you come upon them in nature. 


  • Sponges (4 if you want to make one set, 8 if you want to make two)
  • A marker
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard
  • Glue (preferably a glue gun)
  • Paint
  • Paper



Decide on an animal, research what their tracks look like, and draw a foot or paw print on your sponges with a marker. 


Cut the track pieces out and assemble them on your piece of cardboard. Glue the track pieces in place.


Spread out paint on a paper plate and dip the tracks into them, making sure the bottom of the tracks are entirely covered. Then press the tracks onto the piece of paper, like you’re using a stamp.


… Make a trail of tracks!




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