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Deer Story

Friday, June 8, 2007

I have given this Canon Rebel XTi quite a workout in the five months I've had it. I've worn it so often over my shoulder that I no longer even notice its weight. It lies against my hip, always ready, always on, asleep, but ready to awakened in an instant. I keep a spare battery in my pocket all the time; I live in fear of laundering it.

I was immersed in warblers when something moved in the corner of my vision field. A big doe was coming out of the woods just across the road from me. A strong breeze was blowing from the east, bringing her scent to me, though I couldn't discern it. She could smell nothing of me, and being a doe, she moved closer to investigate.

An old deer hunter once told me that a buck won't do that, and I have found it to be true, even in fawns. Bucks who move closer to a strange object often get shot for their curiosity. Does let it all hang out, the desire to know what they're seeing overpowering their fear. They are Science Chimps, too.

She moved on an oblique angle toward me as she continued to cross the road. She couldn't make out the details of my face, covered as it was by a camera. She hesitated, and watched me.

Over her head, I could see a couple approaching, walking the road near their cabin. They had a Norwegian elkhound with them, and the man, sizing up the situation, stopped to put her on a lead. Thank you. The doe still hadn't perceived them. Oh, this was good.

She tilted an ear back. Someone was coming!Tearing those curious eyes away, she turned to look. Ruh-roh. No curiosity about this! She made up her mind quickly.
I was gratified to see her choose me as the lesser threat, as she wheeled and ran toward and past me and into the safety of the woods. I felt I had done something right. Stillness is to be desired in the pursuit of beauty.

I'm writing from North Dakota, where we spent most of the day on unbroken prairie, watching upland sandpipers, vesper sparrows, soras, and magnificent bison rolling like dark boulders over the hummocked hills. I was overcome by emotion several times, thinking that this is how it all looked before we broke it. I'm grateful to be here, to show it to my children, to be able to play music with my husband, to share what I can with everyone here. I love North Dakota, and the strong, self-effacing people who hang through her winters and bask in her short, ravishing summers. Thanks for all your good wishes. I'm feeling fine and soaking it all up.
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