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Posts Tagged ‘deer’

Majesty

I turned down the cutoff, savoring the awe that I feel from what I’ve come to call a “hawking”. This past year, perhaps a bit longer, I have experienced the majestic visitations of hawks soaring overhead as I’ve wandered to and fro. On this particularly brilliant Fall day, a hawk did more than soar overhead. He dipped down, close, past my windshield, so close I could see his eyes, the feathers of his wings. It was as if he was warning me of something ahead. In an instant he was gone.

I turned down my road. It is a winding pathway that houses both commerce and the feel of countryside. It traverses two major expressways, is home to equestrian stables, and houses modern “mcmansions” alongside 100+ year homes.

As I wended my way home, the hawk on my mind, there, in the outgoing lane. was a kingly creature. I could not get my phone out fast enough and something told me to just sit in the moment.

He was amazing, staring my way, me staring back, hoping no other cars were approaching. I slowly opened the window, neither of us looking away, his large, liquid eyes staring into mine. He bent his rack forward and down, quite the gentleman, as if to say “ma’am“and then – it was over. I could hear his hooves on the pavement, he had business to tend to, as did I.

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The Beads of Life

The space between events is where most of life is lived.
Those half-remembered moments of joy or sadness, fear or disappointment,
are merely beads of life strung together
to make one expanding necklace of experience.

The space between events is where we grow old.
From sunrise to sunset one day lives as another day emerges
from the fluid womb of dawn,
the first bead strung upon the everlasting thread of life.

The space between events is where knowledge marries beauty.
In quiet reflection we remember only the colored outline of events,
the black and white of war,
the rosiness that surrounded our first love.

The space between events is why we go on living.
The laughter of a child
or the sigh of wind in a canyon
becomes the music we hear expanding in our hearts
each time we gather one more bead of life.

From “Dancing Moons” by Nancy Wood

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DSCN4903I wish I had not seen it: that little bit of tan in the sunny grass late on a summer afternoon.

Tom and I had strolled toward the back of our acreage, hoping to spy the fawn we noticed a few days before. We walked the walk that has become our daily constitutional, checking the knoll of prairie grasses and natives, and the more recently planted grasses in a small plot just established this season.

Routines. They keep us grounded and focused and ordered in life. They give us an anchor when the wind shifts and the tide turns.

I wish I had not seen it; aghast when I did, crying softly “oh, no”, Tom, beside me in an instant, shocked and saddened at what we encountered.

That little fawn, hidden in the weeds just a few days before. lay dead in the grass,  just its head and a leg. No mess. No blood.  The remains of nature’s brutality. Obviously, my words of the fawn’s safety and lack of scent made no difference to whatever attacked it, most likely coyote.

Tom gentled me away, admonished me to stop looking, comforted me as we retraced our steps to the house.

It is a joy living so close to nature – except on days like this. Except on days like this.

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DSCN4773There is a rhythm to seasons as they flow from winter to spring, summer to fall, and within the seasons another rhythm flows as well.

One, knows, for instance, that it will rain when the peonies are about to bloom. The irises come first, however, and they show off for such a short time that one must enjoy them in earnest. The Salvia have a longer display, but, deadheading (what a violent word that is for an act that really bring forth new life) insures an encore performance later on. These rhythms all flow within each other.

 

 

Then, there are the weeds, which demand a paragraph in their own. Right now, we are trying to control the determined creeping Charlie, which I pull like a sailor hauling anchors in during a storm, coupled with the insidious garlic mustard. Whoever thought that was a good idea? It thrives here, with its flounce leaves and spikes of white flowers, ravishing our acreage inch by inch. It is the reason I almost look forward to the building of a house next door, for, that lot was a football field of mustard garlic all of whose seeds seemed to settle into our yard.

 

 

As I looked beyond our grassy knoll greening and growing and grateful for the sun and the rain, I wondered when we would first spot a fawn, for we usually do ’round about the time the peonies and irises put on a show. As much as I stomp my foot and huff and puff about the damage the deer do to our gardens, I do look forward to this season when the fawn are born.

 

I noticed something in the garlic, mustardy moat next door; a speck of a something that was probably a bunch of leaves blown about from a recent storm. Still . . . my eye on the speck, I wandered back, inching to the edge of our property. A slight movement in the breeze. Wide eyes watching me. The twitch of an ear. A fawn at rest. Right where his mother put him, for does are known to leave their babes in open fields for hours on end. Fawn have no scent, no predators, in fact, just a seasonally inspired granny who wanders about, dancing the dance of the seasons.

The photo above shows the fawn. Just click on a few times and you will find it center stage, as I did. Click on below, as well, and you should be able to make out the spots that fawn wear in their young life.  You may need to click twice.

 

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Round About Six

DSCN3953From the start of our life together, through the raising of our daughters, and still, Tom and I meet in the kitchen round about six for our evening meal. Monday, as the cold day grew old, I wandered into the kitchen to preheat the oven for our supper. Turning it on, I heard the long click, click, click as our geriatric oven labored to ignite.

As I waited, pulling out a roasting pan and cutting board, I detected motion just beyond our deck. There, in the stark, cold, blue haze of the retreating day, were a family of deer, knee-deep in snow, foraging in the cleared lot next door. Sensing my presence inside the house, I was being watched as much as they were.

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They rummaged, deep, through several feet of snow, unearthing decomposing leaves and vegetation. A head would pop up with whatever was found hanging out and snow covering its nose. I admired their gracefulness as they walked through the deep snow and leapt over the mounds of dirt left by the developer of the property.

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The deer ate their meals as I prepared ours, the daily rhythms of life quietly coexisting indoors and out.

DSCN3966As the deer moved purposefully along in their journey, they passed me looking out of the dining room window, then out to the front gardens they roamed. For a brief moment they stopped, perhaps casing the plots for a late night raid. The deer looked toward me, viewing them now from the living room window. They made their way to their trampled path in the snow, and off to their forest home, leaping over four feet of snow mounded by the city snowplows, their signature white tales at full mast behind them. I turned and went back to kitchen. It was round about six and time to meet my mate for supper.

I encourage you to click onto the pictures to get a better look at these beautiful creatures.

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. . . at the Arbor House Bar. Look who stopped by early last night for a drink.

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t_Childe Hassam - Snow shovels, New EnglandI relish living with four distinct seasons: the crispness of winter, the hopefulness of spring, the freedom of summer’s warmth, and the brilliance of autumn.  I relish each in turn and am often in awe of the beauty of each. This winter, however, is wearing thin, which is odd as it has not been a hard winter, as hard winters go hereabouts.

Our latest snow was but a few inches; not much for the Chicago area, and, as I am told, not particularly hard to shovel as shoveling snow goes. Easy for me to say, of course, as I sat at my desk, all cozy and warm, while the Antler Man was out making a path, a very long path, for me to escape from.

So why, I wonder, has it seemed like such a long winter? Could it be just that feeling come February that those of us in northern climes experience? Cabin fever, no matter how many inches accumulate, how many degrees the mercury dips, or that we’ve even been holed up in our cabins that long? Is it just time to begin feeling restless?

I pondered this cabin fever I have as I looked out at the new fallen snow, with all its beauty clinging to tree limbs and cars, mailboxes and urns, a great expanse of confectioner’s delight on a late winter’s day.

The cardinals and starlings were at the suet feeder and a pair of red-tailed hawks were doing their winged waltz up above.

A neighbor’s dog could be seen, running in frenetic circles, a little black storm cloud amid the white snow.

Two squirrels chatted, up on a limb, their bushy tails curled up in question marks,as they inquired of each other’s day, wondering, perhaps, where the last of the walnuts were buried.

The deer are so much easier to see in the snow. One stood, stock still,  just beyond the arbor, watching as I went out to check the mail. I had interrupted her afternoon break, a frozen white smoothie in the birdbath.

As I trudged through the slush and the snow, like Susie in her galoshes along in the slush, I noticed movement beyond. I stopped. When one lives on a road called the Cutoff, one learns to stop often, to listen, to watch. There they were, an outdoor classroom of creatures, recess from a spell of yarding up, all prancing from east to west, leaping over the driveway; one, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight, together, nine, ten, eleven and twelve. Their graceful movement and precision a sight to behold; Swan Lake in hooves atop the snowy Cutoff stage. I wanted to clap, Bravo, encore,  more, but, then they were gone, into the forest. I picked up the mail, trudged back to my cabin, the doe still sipping her tea, and I thought, spring is coming, with all its hopefulness, and maybe, perhaps, I could endure a bit more of winter after all.

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Two Look at Two

I see him now, often; roaming silently through the brush. Looking out the kitchen windows as I start dinner. Reading the mail. I catch sight of the long tips of the now full rack blending with the barren tips of the tree branches. Often, a doe, rushing past, is the first clue that he, or a brother, is nearby. This king of our little forest is the one I wanted to see, however. Thursday, I finally saw him. Close. Eight points, at least. He was there, in sight,  right off the deck, then behind the garage – just as Tom was coming in the door.

“Buck” I shouted, floundering for my camera. “Big Buck”.

Tom looked at me for an instant, not quite sure what I was saying, then turned. A few yards away, the king of our little forest walked, majestically, past our arbor, in hot pursuit of his mate.

There we were, like Donner and Blitzen, rushing across our drive and into our neighbors’ yard, in equally hot pursuit of the buck. Most of the herd was out, the boys either resting on the ground or off to side, the girls in high anticipation.

We mostly watched him, the king, and we knew him; the Christmas buck of two years past. He had survived! There is now an almost imperceptible limp of the injured leg. Just enough for us to know, it is him. I invite you to read the story of the late night drama in late December that played out in our front yard  to fully understand our excitement at seeing this royal creature again. Be assured,, his rack is kingly, his gait imposing, especially with his slight hesitation. The story is here.

If you click on the pictures twice you can see him. I’m sure he’ll be back, as I’m sure Antler Man will be looking, soon, for the antler sheds.

Two Look at Two by Robert Frost

Love and forgetting might have carried them
A little further up the mountain side
With night so near, but not much further up.
They must have halted soon in any case
With thoughts of a path back, how rough it was
With rock and washout, and unsafe in darkness;
When they were halted by a tumbled wall
With barbed-wire binding. They stood facing this,
Spending what onward impulse they still had
In One last look the way they must not go,
On up the failing path, where, if a stone
Or earthslide moved at night, it moved itself;
No footstep moved it. ‘This is all,’ they sighed,
Good-night to woods.’ But not so; there was more.
A doe from round a spruce stood looking at them
Across the wall, as near the wall as they.
She saw them in their field, they her in hers.
The difficulty of seeing what stood still,
Like some up-ended boulder split in two,
Was in her clouded eyes; they saw no fear there.
She seemed to think that two thus they were safe.
Then, as if they were something that, though strange,
She could not trouble her mind with too long,
She sighed and passed unscared along the wall.
‘This, then, is all. What more is there to ask?’
But no, not yet. A snort to bid them wait.
A buck from round the spruce stood looking at them
Across the wall as near the wall as they.
This was an antlered buck of lusty nostril,
Not the same doe come back into her place.
He viewed them quizzically with jerks of head,
As if to ask, ‘Why don’t you make some motion?
Or give some sign of life? Because you can’t.
I doubt if you’re as living as you look.”
Thus till he had them almost feeling dared
To stretch a proffering hand — and a spell-breaking.
Then he too passed unscared along the wall.
Two had seen two, whichever side you spoke from.
‘This must be all.’ It was all. Still they stood,
A great wave from it going over them,
As if the earth in one unlooked-for favour
Had made them certain earth returned their love.

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In the bittersweet hour at day’s end, just before dusk descends, the stage here on the Cutoff shifts to Act III; the mood changes, the tension builds, the lighting begins to fade – and the knights of the forest come into view.

So it has been this week. If I watch deliberately, I can see them, emerging, one by one, from tall oak forest. First, a doe will appear, her young fawn trailing behind. She will suddenly bolt across the road and I know that not far behind are her suitors.

I watched the other night as one of the “boys” took his time crossing from our neighbors’ yard, through the brush, into ours. With his crown firmly in place, he displayed a steady gait and a regal posture. A fawn was frolicking behind him; possibly the same youngster I spied just outside our living room window at the crack of dawn, so close was he that the window pane was all that separated us. The fawn was cheeky in the misty morn, and so was the one come dusk, nuzzling up to his elder as if nuzzling up to his mom.

Both buck and boy were aware of my presence and both simply ignored me; like other boys I have known. Soon, very soon, two other bucks appeared, then a doe. While to some the lyrics “doe, a deer, a female deer” might have come to mind, my own inner voice seemed to want to sing “the boys are back in town!”.

These photos are blurry. Just remember, I’m a novice whose view of nature is often one of awesome impressionism.

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Not a bad way to start a day

As I came down the stairs this morning, saying a silent prayer for another day and the gift of a rising sun, I could clearly see out our front window. We’ve left the window curtainless to the view, which is always a delight. Today, as I descended into my day, I could see a doe off to the right, rummaging in the pile of leaves Antler Man made the other day, and I could see something else. It looked, at first, like an upright log or a pile of leaves left in the hauling.

I’ve learned to slowly walk toward the window so as not to stir the wildlife. I crept in. Then I saw something else,  sitting, still and alert. Just sitting.

“Tom” I whispered, then again “Tom.”

 The television was on, announcing the news of the day, which sounded a lot like the news of yesterday. He couldn’t quite hear me.

“Tom, come see”.

He did and we sat for at at least 10 minutes, cameras and binoculars in hand. Watching. Waiting.

If you click on the picture, maybe even twice, you can see it too.

I wish I could get that dust spot off of the lens. Our windows are 85 years old. The wavy, greenish glass distorts photos some, but, not so much that we couldn’t see what the fox seemed to be looking at.

A truck came down the road, stopping to see the buck. The fox, he turned and ran like the wind.

I was pleased to see him. Aesop. We started calling him Aesop last year when I caught him in the snow. We hadn’t seen him since.

The buck sauntered over and was joined by two others, the heat of their breath forming clouds of steam as they panted and then chased a few does in their primal dance of autumn.

Not a bad way to start a day.

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