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"They leave the wings," Jack said. We crouched down low, scanning the damp sand as the morning mist began to burn away. Among the forlorn scattered feathers, and the oddly disembodied, bright white wings, bold etchings told the story. The peregrine a dark, decisive bullet shooting down toward the gull, striking hard and severing the spine. Its tail and feet grazing the sand as they struggled, outcome long foretold. The gull become a meal, nature's harsh and unremitting destiny -- every morsel gone except those lonely, pristine wings.

We moved on, eyes alert for other signs. A string of dots tucked beside a rocky cliff face, each tiny toe kissing the dust lightly as the mouse scurried toward shelter, tells another story. Not far off, we find what we expected, a slightly wavy line of tracks, soft round pugmarks of a bobcat searching for a snack. The two don't cross, and there's no sign of a scuffle, so we know the mouse arrived home safely. The cat continued up into the dunes, where we lose the trail but find instead the blunt, chewed stems along the hem of every plant and bush that signal rabbits -- abundant numbers, by the look of things.

Around one dune and down another, skirting bursts of poison oak and trying not to crush the sand verbena, we find the rabbit tracks, runs of prints from one safe haven to another. By now the sun's well up, the fog long gone, and the wary dune inhabitants all under cover, though their tracks are unmistakable for those prepared to slow down and use their senses.

They are threads of a tapestry we all used to know, waiting to be picked up again. Each one ties us to the animal that made it, leading to a new, old world of rediscovery.

With a Perspective, I'm Peggy Hansen.


Peggy Hansen is a photographer and organic farmer in Santa Cruz.