It was an ordinary Fall day.
I stepped outside onto the deck to throw our compost – mostly banana peels and used tea bags – into the woods.
At the first throw, suddenly, not far away, nestled between trees and stones, up from the leaves sprang two young deer. Their tails didn’t white flag alert, but they were certainly focused on this human. I noticed their glances going to another spot on the hill, and realized a third deer was there with them.
The third deer was still laying down in the leaves, clearly relaxed. She was facing me, and as I studied her outlines, realized she was a very large deer, especially for a doe. She would have still had antlers if she was a buck. But she was as massive as any buck I’ve seen. It had been a good year for mast – the acorns and other nuts the forest provides, and they had gobbled them all up.
As I watched them, and they watched me, I continued slowly throwing out tea-bags, softly talking to the deer. Murmuring my appreciation for their beauty, the perfect camouflage that made them unnoticeable until the two sprang up.
The third deer, I decided, was the mom, and these were her fawns, born last June. Twins. Always checking in with mom, to see if they really needed to worry or not. They were well grown, muscled, filled out, clearly well fed.
Mama deer nibbled a few leaves, then slowly got to her feet, while I murmured more appreciation for her great beauty. Then, a thing I had never seen before: she stretched, raising her neck as high as she could get it, arching her back, her legs straight, and I truly appreciated her grand size and powerfully strong body.
She was so casual, just like any human getting up from a long night’s rest, stretching the kinks out. It was as if she heard me murmuring about her size, and she wanted to show me just how big she was.
“You are gorgeous,” I told her, “The biggest doe I have ever seen. And such a good mama.”
Her ears flicked in my direction. The two young ones looked at her to see how they should respond. But she’d been around these woods a long time, clearly, and just as clearly, knew I was no threat.
I retreated quietly from my post on the end of the deck.
It was an extraordinary day.