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A Ten-Point Messenger

Sunday, December 10, 2017

I'm back from 12 days away, 10 of them in Ecuador's Andes. It was the most excellent adventure!!

 And all is well at home; both Liam and Jemima survived without me; both boys pitched in to make sure she got fed every day; and I've done nothing since I got back but study and photograph blue jays. It feels great to be back in the saddle again. My suitcase exploded in the living room, and there it still lies, because there are jays to be watched. All my Ecuador birds are jammed into one 128-gig memory card that is glowering at me from a corner of the drawing table. Let us out!! they cheep.

I have stuff to do. I'll get to you. Here's the rest of my magical Dean's Fork walk, from a post I prepared before I left.

Keep them on the memory card, says the winter wren. I'm the star of this show.

Alone, and yet not alone. The animals were coming to me this fine late November day, and each one lifted my spirits and made me feel accompanied. You could ask who might be sending them. You could pick now from any number of spirits who've passed on, but are walking beside me every day.

I came up to the Miracle Sycamore, a tree I've enjoyed for years. Sadly, the Miracle half of it finally died this summer. I'd marveled each time we met at the fact that the blasted-out shell of bark that was once such a fine, huge tree had managed to send up a living, vital trunk to the heavens. And that trunk subsisted off what that hollow shell could give it, through the remaining bark layers. You'd have thought it was dead, but no. It still grew.

And now that trunk has died. But there's another trunk. It took off from the base of the tree, and it's running off the roots it's made for itself. Yay for that!  It's all part of the same tree, so the Miracle Sycamore isn't dead. It's just taking another direction.

Being a writer, I've seen nothing but metaphors in this valiant tree. I gather them up and tuck them close to my heart for safekeeping. 

We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us.--Joseph Campbell 

For me, Campbell's mantra is embodied in this tree. That sycamore had a life all planned out. She had a  big strong supporting trunk. She was headed to the sun. For whatever reason--lightning strike, disease, flood--who can say--her great wide trunk failed her, became hollow and weak. You could see right through it.

 It was time for plan B.  Every trunk for itself! She sank down some more roots and sent up another trunk. Years from now you might look at her and never know she'd had another life, for the hollow part will have fallen away.
I feel my heart lift as I look up at her sending out new twigs and branches, lit by the last rays of sun. Let the old part go. Life is what you make of it.

The light was fading fast. I headed home, enjoying the feel of chill descending in the shadows. I decided to take the low road back, because it has thick briary tangles and often gives me deer. 
Sure enough, as I walked, I sensed their presence all around me. I even heard two antlers clack together. I became very still and walked slowly and softly. 

A small buck burst out of the briars to my left and bounded up the trail. I didn't have time to raise the camera. I stopped and waited. I was pretty sure I wasn't the reason he was running. 

There was another buck on his trail. Shall we count the points? Click on the photos and you'll see them all. He's got a double brow tine on his left antler, and three points on the beam of his right, for a total of ten. Wow-eee. How I love shooting bucks this way, leaving them to run and walk and fight and scuffle another day. I get all the thrill of the hunt with no blood other than that which pounds in my ears.

This is the first ten-point buck I've had in my sights in years. Oh glory, hallelujah. I love my does, and I think I've proven that, but what a thrill it is to see their elusive mates!

I don't mean to hurt his dignity, but I loved this pose, and I can't help noticing the white stockings down the front of his legs. Hmmm. Another thing to watch for, another thing to notice.

And then, in the ultimate gift of the wild, he stopped and looked back down the trail and saw me. I checked the time signatures on my photos and we locked gaze for 11 glorious seconds before he put his head down and charged into the brush. Thank you, Buck; thank you, Animals; thank you, Dean's Fork, and thank you, whatever great spirits are sending me these gifts. It was a walk for the record books, one to remember forever.

I came back up the hill and found the rusty gate, portal to all my favorite places and things, waiting open for me. Might as well walk through.


Wow, he's magnificent! I love your writing so so so much.

Such gifts! Thanks for sharing. That buck is magnificent.

I'm so glad that you're back and that Jemima is still okay. I had no doubt that Liam would step up and keep her fed. You and your blue jays are frequently in my thoughts.

Posted by Anonymous December 10, 2017 at 5:26 PM

This post makes my heart happy. Speed read through the first time. And went back and reread so as to absorb the details. The thrill of seeing such a magnificent creature-makes my heart beat faster just reading about it.

So glad you daily "walk through" and show us more.

A beautiful post, Julie.

Wait a sec...jotting down Marlon's links to visit...snort.
Can I just maybe make the observation that lately almost EVERY post is about gifts being sent to you? XO
What a magnificent view, his looking straight at you. He knows.

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