The woods at home here are very much alive and adventure is always singing. You would have skipped along with me into the other worlds next door last Friday…
The best magic started when I spotted a lovely buck and followed him into a grove beyond the trail. It was the best time of year to do this, still newly spring without too much thorny brambles and bees to block my way.
I heard his hoof-stomps on the wind, and when I turned to greet him, I discovered him much farther away than I imagined. I sweetly coaxed him into calm, apologized for any intrusion, asked permission to sneak some photographs, and promised I would do no harm, not even snap a twig. I stood in place the whole time. Quiet and in love, I made my approach as sweet as possible, and the deer seemed to recognize me from the many walks I’ve taken on the trail, yet this was the first time I wandered off the path and came to this clearing, their private sanctuary.
Wary, he watched me the whole time, huffing at times, stomping, too, yet also very curious. I bowed to him. He was, indeed, quite taller and bigger than I.
The ladies were busy grazing, yet at first notice of me, looked up, seemingly not alarmed. The looked to the leader’s reactions toward me. When he did not flick his tail, they stayed put, some still enjoying lying in the meadow beds of grass.
He wasn’t that far from me, only a few feet away. I could hear his breathing and snorting, or was that still part of his huffing — a warning to stay clear?
Or was he a ‘he’ at all? I kept looking at his head shape, a little bumpy, larger than the does, his back arched… I worried at how skinny the buck seemed. Look at the little hollow, or dip, underneath the back spine, and how his ribs showed. The other deer seemed very well nourished, fat even. I fought off cooing at him, something I thought would have been too condescending.
The sunshine kept getting cut by the clouds, making the clearing radiant one moment and overcast the next. The deer are perfectly suited to their surroundings, blending in with the trees and green, not yet the bright brown-red they get when it is summer.
His body still tense, he stretched out his neck more as I moved and apologized each time I moved, and the more I spoke and moved, the more curious and less on guard he seemed. What are you doing? Why are you here? Who are you? Were the questions I read in his eyes.
Gone in a moment the second a doe starts to inch too close toward me…
The leader is no longer curious. Neck down, tail flickers, his back fur disturbed, I sense his fear.
The rest of the deer run, but two lazy ones keep eating. This is, after all, their home, I am the one who really should leave. I’m about to, but at that time I thought any sudden movements on my part would signal trouble.
The leader attempts running at me. I feel very guilty for coming to this place. I should have known better. But before I can try to get out of the way, the boy does an about-face.
On the other side is a much older, bigger stag. He makes a deep gruff noise that sends all the deer, including the two wanted to stick around, running away. He stands there, very still and statuesque, his torso and neck as powerful and large as tree trunks, eyes burning holes into me. He waits. He watches. He is faraway but close enough for me to sense the push of his presence. Oh, crap, I am really sorry for hanging around here now. Please forgive me, Mr. Deer Sir!
As I step away back towards the trail, I almost stumble upon something hard and white…
The evidence of one who has lived here before and is no more.
I love this land. I love the deer who share this land with me. I like it when they come to visit my neighborhood, always feel a little sad when the noises of other people and cars and dogs keep them away. I think this as I made the twenty-minute walk back to the trail, feeling very awkward and human, silly even.
Before I got back to my world, I took one last glance back at the elder stag to see him disappear gracefully away, and then I stopped to sit on part of the trunk of a fallen oak, leaned against the rest of the oak that was still standing but no longer alive, wanting to cry. The sun wouldn’t let me shed any tears. I was too happy there.
I said my prayers, danced and played, took more photographs (this time of myself) and thought of how I would share this with you. I think my experience with the deer was eventful all because I wanted something phenomenal to share with you! All in all, my promise to the deer was met. I took nothing and changed nothing on my walk through their realm. Our interaction only lasted a few minutes, but it felt like hours.
I still feel in love. My heart full and proud, pounding with joy and that soft cuddle-want to hug everyone in sight… but instead it just all comes out of me in a long sigh.