Close encounter with a wild buck

When the temperature drops and it snows in September, when I have to wear four layers of clothes and big clunky boots to walk to the store, I wonder why I live where I live. I’m a writer. I could live anywhere.

I was thinking just that as I trudged home from a dance class on Monday morning. I had windpants over my tights, a down jacket and down mitts, and boots so heavy they made me feel like crying. I crossed through the park and over the bridge and up a hill that felt like a mountain.

I tried to clean the snow off a bench because I was tired enough to curl up and go to sleep. Only two inches of snow brushed off. The ice was stuck like a fresh bandaid. So, I sat on the ice.

I fantasized that my husband would appear hauling an empty sled and with a desire to drag me home on it. I pictured him galloping down the hill on a horse. I wondered how long I’d actually have to be missing before my family noticed. The word “spring” came to mind.

By the time I pictured my dejected self a frozen, permanent exhibit in the park, the cold of the ice had seeped through to my backside. I got up, sighed dramatically at  the unfairness of a tragic life and continued the trudge.

And there, before me, was not a fantasy. Ten, maybe 20 feet away was a massive and beautiful mule deer with wide, slightly curved antlers with more points than I have fingers. We were motionless, the deer and me, looking and studying each other. He, so stunning against the pure snow backdropped by spindly, naked trees.

A tiny movement caught my attention. A second deer, a young female had stopped feeding on the shrubs that hid her so well. Her coat was the perfect camo. Then, beside her, another young doe, perhaps the twins I had so often seen with their mother.

I turned my head slowly, scanning for mama deer. The buck remained where he was, still watching me, scenting me, perhaps, for danger. Wondering, perhaps, about the bright green yoga mat slung across my back like a quiver.

The females returned to their feeding as if I wasn’t there. The male dropped his guard. I continued on my path, the boots less heavy.

The buck turned away, too, as lumbering and heavy as an old man. His antlers caught in the trees on his way to the creek, and I watched as he rotated his massive neck and heard the hollow rattle of his rack scraping bare poplar. The tree released him and he continued dignified and sure footed.

I continued home, less lumbering, less trudging and more sure about where I live and why.


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