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Dakota Doe

Thursday, June 28, 2007

There’s no real plot in this one; just the beauty of a summer doe, surprised. North Dakota is famous for its "monster bucks," heads and antlers of which were hanging all over the hunting lodge where we stayed. Big. Really big.

We shocked this girl by stopping to look at a Krider’s redtail. I backed my telephoto off as far as I could but just barely got her in the picture. Unlike my Wisconsin model, she’s almost in full summer dress, just a few gray winter hairs hanging along her lower flanks and belly. I wonder why deer would change to red in summer, and remember that red radiates heat better than gray. The same explanation works for why there are so many more red-phase ruffed grouse and screech owls in the southern parts of their range. Red is a warm-weather color.

There had been perhaps eight inches of rain in the last two weeks. We’re in a drought, like much of the country, and it was pure heaven to be on squishy ground. Look at the droplets she flings up as she turns to flee.I’m sure the doe would disapprove of this shot, but it does show her nice full udder. She’s got a fawn somewhere hidden in the grass.Or maybe she’s just fixin’ to drop one. Either way, she’s got milk.Over the hill she goes.And stops for a last look back. Lucky girl, to be able to bring her baby up on the prairie, listening to western meadowlarks.I'm praying for rain tonight like a prospector prays for gold. Please. The sky is deep Payne's gray-blue, the leaves are inside out, the radar looks good, all sprinkled with green and yellow, and I hope this storm actually forms and gives us some relief. We had our last picking of sugar snap peas last night, and the first picking of snap beans, and the beans are all J-shaped, the shape of drought. My tomatoes are just sitting there, sulking, hard little green marbles hanging from their tiny limbs. I don't want to haul out 200 feet of hose if I don't have to. I'm waiting, hoping, visualizing inches of rain coming down on my crisp gardens. May it rain on you, too.
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