An Evening Walk

Deer 002In the late afternoon, bundled up against the bitter cold, my friend Becky and I went on a walk, each with camera in hand. We walked past the sheds, along the fence, through the rested pasture to the fence separating the pasture and our small woods. Pushing the top wire down, we carefully stepped over the fence. Instead of going south to the prairie, we went the opposite direction into the more wooded area. The dogs scouted ahead, sniffing the many scents along the way. We hiked along a heavily traveled deer trail, ducking under branches in some places. The low sun at our backs set the trees before us ablaze with a golden fire. The sun seemed to be sitting on the rim of the hill, a glowing orange orb. Its light filtered through the trees. A breathtaking beauty, we stopped to admire and attempt to capture with our cameras, giving in to the deep need ingrained in each person to seek out beauty and appreciate it. After several attempts to capture it we moved on. I still marveled at the glow in the trees, as if they had captured a piece of the sun or became a part of it.

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Thorns from brambles and prickly ash grabbed at our jackets as we continued our walk. I pointed out a beautiful snag, a dead tree, full of holes. Snags are incredible. Though they themselves are dead; they are still filled with life, providing shelter and food to many creatures. I found another snag nearby. I climbed up the hill a little to get a closer look, as I came back down near Becky, my feet slid a little in the snow. Sunlight still lit the tops of the trees at the bottom of the hill.

Deer 064We began to wind uphill. There was a small clearing near the top, a couple of cedars stood around it, which Becky liked. The sun shimmered at the edge, sinking lower now. From the clearing we walked along a path I had used nearly two months ago. Shortly we came to a spot where there was a huge gap in the wires of the fence, and stepped through the middle wires. We changed our course, heading southwest now. There was another fence that is perpendicular to the latter, between another rested pasture and the last paddock. I found the best spot to go through near a gnarled oak tree. I lifted the second wire and hooked its barbs onto the top wire. Carefully pushing down on the third wire, we ducked through one at a time. Allie and Spencer scooted under and trotted ahead of us. We walked along the fence, following the dogs on what was possibly a deer trail. Leaving the paddock, we walked in the cow lane.  Snow had drifted across; we were surprised at its depth as we sank in a few inches. Becky and I came upon mysterious marks in the snow near the dog tracks, two parallel lines. We couldn’t figure out what made them; it seemed unlikely that they were animal tracks. I took a photo in hopes someone could explain. (Mom thinks a buck may have rubbed his antlers in the snow.)

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We had climbed up a small rise when I spotted three white-tailed deer in the field up ahead of us. They had stopped to study us. I was so excited to see them; I wanted to take a picture of one but had missed my chance by seconds several times by not having my telephoto lens with me. This time however, I was prepared, I just had to switch lens. It was as if God had stopped them from running away to give me time. With the setting sun it was stunning, the deer silhouetted against it. Raising their nostrils just a bit, testing the air for our scent. Debating whether we were a threat. Their ears twitched, listening to our every move. Big black eyes peered at us. They were so majestic and breathtaking. I wished to hold their attention forever, just taking them in. Then Allie saw them, she began running toward them. They spooked and began to run, but paused to look back. They ran with such fluid grace, like a dance. They bounded across the field, white tails waving like flags in the dusk. With a magnificent leap over a small waterway they disappeared into the retreating day. The magic was broken, not yet completely gone, but fleeting. We came out of the lane and returned to the house before the sun completely disappeared.

– January 3, 2014
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