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Refugium

Saturday, January 5, 2019



 Buck doing buck things. Which involves neck stretching, thrashing at vegetation, poking twigs into their pre-orbital scent glands, peeing, snorting, pawing and facing off.

 Refugium: A safe place. A place you can go to get away from everything else that's going on. Indigo Hill has always been a refuge, for animals and for us. I keep this blog as a refuge for me, for you. But even Indigo Hill can be compromised, invaded.

I have been holding these photos since I took them October 22, 2018. I didn't want anyone to see them and know that these beautiful bucks were frequenting our meadow. I held them until after hunting season at Thanksgiving, and then I planned to hold onto them until after the two-day gun season December 15 and 16.  No way was I going to blow these big boys' cover with a blog post while men were about with guns. And then on December 16 all hell broke loose in our world, and it has taken me until now to even begin to emerge and remember who I was and the things I was doing before that, to remember the joy these animals brought me. I remember as through a fog or a screen. My joy has been badly beaten. It's still there, the way a pilot light glows blue in the back of the oven, waiting. Wishing to burst back into flame, knowing that isn't going to happen.

I don't want to write about hell. Screw that. There's enough hell in this world. I want to remember looking out the window and seeing this enormous eight-point beast shuffling up the meadow margin.



And because that wasn't enough, along came a nine-point monster to complete the picture.



Such incredibly beautiful, fine, mature animals. Their racks are high and their tines are very long. Surely the finest brace of bucks I've been blessed to see here.

I knew the moment I saw them that I'd tell no one, show no one their magnificence. They were too beautiful to share. And sharing them during hunting season could get them shot.


I grinned as I watched them showing off for each other, and for any doe who happened to be peeking from the woods. They tried to moosh their scent glands up as high into the brush as possible, to say that a big one passed here.


Then they drew close together and my heart almost burst.



The span of their antlers seemed to go on forever. They looked almost like mule deer, or elk.  I wondered if they were brothers. Twins, even. What a thought.  Looking back on them, they're but apparitions to me. I can hardly believe they were ever here, hardly believe I had them in my lens, my heart pounding out of my chest.

 I've no idea if they survived hunting season, but chances are better than usual. It was miserably wet all week, with cold driving rain, and the hunter numbers were greatly suppressed. I can hope they escaped. I can hope they hid in this refugium we offer. And wouldn't it be wonderful to trip over one of those antlers some gray February day? To see tines sticking up out of the sere grass? To pick up a shed antler and marvel at its weight, smoothness, and beauty? To bring it home and add it to my basket of bloodless trophies? I can dream.  I did dream, and my dream looked like this.

 Click on this photo to see them all at proper size and definition.


19 comments:

Yes—so glad you waited. And I just read Sy Montgomery’s latest book “How to be a Good Creature” and thought of you in each chapter. Take good care of yourself in the days ahead.

So glad for you that you caught such a magical moment. Peace to you,
Heather
Wayne, PA

What gorgeous boys! I love the idea that they might be brothers. ❤️ May they stay safe in your refugium.

You are a great spy.

For me to see a buck like that is SO rare - what a gift to see one - TWO - sharing your home. Yesterday, according to a fella in a pick-up truck that we had a chat with yesterday while on our walk, was the last day of "big game" season here in VA. I saw a little spike buck and a doe up on our hill above the house and breathed a sigh of relief that he had made it through. Not that there isn't the occasional poaching, and the danger from cars, and...

Much love to you and yours.

Peace, even momentarily, can come in nature- even at our hardest hours. I wish this for you and your family.

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry

Amen Wendell Berry. Thank you Catbird.

Praying our virtual hugs and your refugium help sustain you through this incredibly difficult time.

Thinking of you your family and your dear ones. Hang on to the refuge and seek out any glimmers you can find. My heart is sore for all of you. Nature can help heal some of the pain. Caroline

“Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what's going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.”
― Annie Dillard, "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek"

I am glad you waited Julie. May you have peace in your heart and Refugium.

Prayers for your whole family. How utterly shattering. Praying for you all to find peace in the margins, and continued joy and love in one another and with all the glories of creation which surrounds you so bounteously on your land.

What gorgeous guys they are, thank you for sharing the photos with us now.

You are an amazing lady. Special prayers going out for you and your family at this time.

so glad you waited and hopefully these 2 fellows will visit again. I live in a city (largest in NH) and occasionally a moose will come down from the nearby mountain to visit. I've seen 2 to my absolute delight and fortunately everyone is very respectful of them. They are allowed to roam a bit and then the police gently persuade them to return home!

I think it’s good to do the things that remind you of who you are.

We had a really handsome, iconic-looking buck with swollen throat and a huge rack on the grounds here, probably around the same time as your guys. Very elk-ish. I haven’t seen him since November. Bow-hunters own and use all the surrounding land. Their stands and blinds litter the woods. It’s unfair, and there is nothing I can do about it. Still, we have a herd of does and “tween” fawns—I counted 16 last night along our driveway. Sometimes I catch them off guard when I’m in my car, moving slowly along the gravel drive. I’ll see just a couple of noggins and ears poking up like peace signs ✌�� above the brush. I love catching their starry eyes with my headlamp walking Maggie at night. They don’t flee, not right away. They bow and lift their heads, freeze, listen, maybe stomp a foot, until one of them throws up her tail, and they all bound off.

So I liked your earlier posts about the differences between male and female attitudes and behavior. I’m looking more closely now.

Sending you all the spunk and fortitude of a Jay in winter. xo Kate G.

Yes, those bucks are beautiful. Their presence a reminder of the wild world that goes on out there, all the time, everyday. Cherish their presence. Thank you for protecting them with silence and a safe space. Been thinking of you and the family everyday.

Reaching out to you through these mysterious internet connections and wishing you strength and peace in the days ahead. You all are in my thoughts.

Thank you so much for sharing so much of your life/lives and your incredible nature observations. Followed you for years, you taught me so much. Listening to the Rain Crows and wishing the best for all of you.

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