Then this past week I decided I should finally check out the remains (it could have been a neighbor's dog, after all). I fully expected to find a skeleton of some kind left over, but I found something quite different. Fur. Big clumps of fur. Some still attached to skin, but most just loose, and grouped into small carpets on the wet leaves. The snowbanks had clearly swept some of the hair down a small embankment against a stone wall left by farmers of yore, but the majority seemed untouched.
Curiously, there were no bones or any other remains to speak of. The scavengers were thorough. And though I thought the recent death would deter other wildlife from coming near the area, the site has become a frequent hangout for deer—as is evidenced by scat piles. This is partly due to my parents' hosta bushes which serve as a buffet when other vegetation grows scarce midwinter (much to my dad's chagrin).
I was at first sort of appalled by the fur. I found the remains disturbing because there was no other sign of the animal's former presence. But after a while I found it purely fascinating. As unsettling as it was to find the stray fur blanketing the forest floor, it was also strangely beautiful.