I Am Watching a Deer.
I am sitting at my computer. The house is quiet. It is a school day, but schools are closed, so Dylan is asleep and Shane is reading in his room.
It’s the first real snow of the season.
Outside, it is still falling, steady and strong. It’s enough snow to thoroughly blanket the driveway, but not yet enough to cover the autumn leaves strewn about in our yard. The silence is unusual and glorious.
Across the driveway, we have a tiny stream that runs through a patch of trees. We call it “the woods” because in our county, this is one of the few remaining places where more than two trees stand together. It’s a group of maybe a hundred trees – enough for the stream to flow through unimpeded, but not enough to encourage hiking.
All of our local wildlife lives inside the group of trees. They have nowhere else to go. We have a family of raccoons, some foxes and plenty of squirrels. Often I will see a group of three, or even ten deer.
But today there is just one. He is a very young buck, his antlers barely longer than his ears. He has been lying in the snow for hours, and has a full inch of snow on his back. He is so still for so long, I start to wonder what he is thinking – if he is thinking. Does he understand the snow? It’s probably his first, with antlers that small.
The females live in groups, lifelong. But the bucks go it alone when they’re barely old enough to walk.
This one set out so early in his life, he has no one to teach him about snow – or anything else. Even though he’s not yet a year old, he is destined to figure it out for himself. He’s a teenager in deer years.
After hours of snow, he stands up. Unlike a dog, he doesn’t shake. The inch of snow still covers his back and the top of his head. And he just stands there, turning his head every few minutes, then standing still again.
A squirrel scampers past and he seems to watch. If the squirrel is okay with this, maybe it’s not the end of the world. A minute after the squirrel passes, the buck shakes himself off and walks a few feet.
There isn’t anything to do. There isn’t anywhere to go for food, but he is up and exploring. He has decided that it’s okay to get up, shake it off and explore.
I watch him in his seeming peace and imagine his confusion. I see only calm, but I wonder if he’s scared.
I am watching a deer – another of God’s creatures. And all I can think about is Dylan.