Friday, December 27, 2019

Awakened at 2 a.m. by my barking dogs, spotty sounds that gradually intensify. My cat leaps from my bed and onto a window sill and peers into darkness. Now, all my dogs are noisy, some hurrying up and down the hallway barking toward both sides of my house.

In the winter more deer come through especially during late and wee hours. Ordinarily, when the dogs become active, they must go outside to work off energy, but not during the hours that most of our world sleeps or tries to sleep. “Quiet, dogs,” I mutter, but they don’t and won’t, not until they’re ready, which seems to take forever.

During daytimes, deer move along traditional paths while browsing. A couple of deer paths cross my property. If deer cross behind the house, near the horses, my dogs will sound alerts. If deer cross in front of my house, the dogs don’t always notice. This time of year I may glance out a front window and see a casually moving little herd, maybe a few does and sometimes also a juvenile or two. These little herds often are identifiable, as some deer have unique markings, and may remain days in the neighborhood.

Deer may be browsing on one property or another as I lead my three equines down the road. Our destination is nearly a quarter-mile away, a neighbor’s pasture. The horses and I began taking such walks after the season’s first deep freeze, when field grass became safe for horses that gain too much weight on healthy, high-sugar grass.

I had been worried about marching three equines all at once along the street. A big concern was that one or more deer might leap from bushes and bound across the road, surprising the horses, and especially Rosie who’s hyper-alert. In an event of situationally-frightened horses, could my small self hold steadily three much bigger beings?

Like many fears that finally are put to test, the presence of deer now seems a non-issue. The horses and I have walked past properties on which deer are positioned, holding high their heads and staring at us. The horses amble along and Rosie doesn’t seem bothered.

The deer aside, I’m finding my horses easy to walk to that pasture and later back home. Except for Pimmy the donkey. She insists on moving at her own speed, or better said, at no-speed. As the horses walk slowly, I pull on a lead rope to keep Pimmy moving. She wears me out. During minimal vehicle traffic hours, I may let her follow loosely, figuring that drivers cautious of deer in the street will spot a donkey. But mostly, Pimmy is tugged.

Walking later by myself to gather the horses, I may pass deer, frozen and staring. I speak softly and walk straight-on without lifting a camera or appearing aggressive. They usually don’t move and after I pass resume grazing, still watching me. I try to avoid being obvious and continue watching, too. Those beautiful wild creatures.

If I consider what’s natural and beautiful about our community, the deer are essentials. Over time, our booming human population having interfered with the landscape has reduced the numbers of passing deer. Last night while in bed listening to dogs bark, I thought about the joys these winter months offer. They bring a kind quiet and stillness that keeps deer moving through.

Dear Friends: The horses and I disturb those deer, and incredibly, they adjust. Diana

One thought on “Survivors

  1. We have pretty regular deer visitors, too. Always a thrill to see them. β€οΈπŸ˜ŠπŸ™‹β€β™€οΈ

    Sent from my iPhone



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