Tag Archives: forests

Frost Valley #5: Deerly Encountered

The first day I headed out to post Frost Valley property I walked into the meadow where I had first seen fireflies, past where I had made a wide berth around a tip-toeing skunk, and over the berms that held back Clear Creek to form fish ponds. I was headed into the unmarked forest looking to come across the southern boundary of the estate. I carried a hammer and had a bag of nails hanging on one hip and on the other a satchel of paper tree adornments declaring: Private Property / No Trespassing.

There were two fish ponds between the meadow and the thickening woods that climbed up the hills on the far side of the little valley. On the downstream side of the second pond an opening in the gathering trees sported a green, grassy meadow. Looking to the far side of this lush meadow, some hundred feet from me, I spotted two fawns, past their spots but far from grown, standing on either side of their mother. All three had their heads up, fully alert, and were looking directly at me.

I instinctively stopped and returned their gaze. Calm, as they were. Eye-to-eye, as they were. Just checking it out.

To all the gods of the forest, I witness what a beautiful moment it was. Four souls breathing the autumn air and taking one another in.

Gorgeous.

That was my take on it and my spirit holds it to this day. I don’t know how gorgeous they considered me, a creature with one hip hanging in a pouch and the other boxy and awkward and with one hoof dangling five wiggly tubes while the other ended in an odd shape that might be good for stomping the earth.

We four stood for five seconds? Fifteen? Sixty? Then, suddenly, one fawn frisked right off the earth and started a rapid, playful romp across the meadow toward me. Within half a frisk it was joined by its sibling, as if two puppies had spotted two hands that needed someone to pet.

I was charmed to be included as their playmate and I celebrated their joy as they bounded my way. But mostly I kept an eye on Mom.

To my surprise Mom seemed rather unconcerned until the fawns got half way across the meadow and were not slowing down. She started to move. Not run. A slow walk, but keeping the distance short enough between she and the fawns so she could get to them if she had to. It was so very civil.

Mom picked up a little speed as the fawns closed the gap between us. When they were ten feet away I shifted my stance. Just a shift from one leg to the another. The fawns stopped in their tracks. Mom slowed and came up between them.

I told them how beautiful they were and thanked them for the pure Nowness of it all.

My mind knew I was posting the property to keep out hunters and I thought of these fawns and their mother not understanding the difference between a creature with a square hip and another with a long stick. And, lets be real — petting wild animals is an iffy proposition at best, especially with a momma of any animal kingdom watching her young.

Five seconds? Fifteen? Sixty? I don’t know how long we stood, my cooing and them twitching their ears and blinking.

Then I slowly moved my hand indicating I was going. I turned and slowly walked toward the woods. They watched until I was gone.

I did the sensible and necessary thing, walking away. But my spirit did the right thing and remains there still, in a lush and obscure meadow, romping and petting and playing with the fawns and the fireflies and the teen-aged skunk and the watchful, calm, Mom.

On The Road #4, sunlight

I don’t remember. This day might have been in northern New Jersey, but I’m pretty sure it was eastern Pennsylvania.

I do remember I had 6¢ in my pocket, which had been a carefully considered decision. In those days, to pick up a pay phone and talk with an operator to make a long distance call you had to insert a dime. After you’ve found someone to ask what a “pay phone” or a “long distance call” is, I’ll continue my story —

After buying a much-needed toothbrush and feeding myself for several days, I found myself with a few coins in my pocket. To even buy a can of kidney beans I had to break my last dime. I had the choice between something to eat and a last chance to call home asking for help to get off the road.

I left the little country store with 6¢ and a can of beans.

Those six cents were on my mind that afternoon, as I passed through lush woods and farms, but there was not much time for obsessing. The air was so fresh. The winding country road was so inviting. And the springtime mist was often sprinkled with moments of glorious sunshine. The gray of the sky would part into brilliant blue and billowing white. The wet greens of springtime earth would sing in vibrant, crystalline light.

About two in the afternoon a bit of straight road was wet and sparkling in the sunshine. An old wood fence on my right offered a place to sit and ease the cotton sleeping bag off my shoulder. Across the road another wood fence separated the grass next to the road from the grass in a pasture—all glowing in the light and just hinting of the color of budding flowers. Rolling hills gave a weaving distant edge to the pasture, covered in gray trunks of trees, topped with yellow and ruby red branches just filling with life.

A few seconds? Ten minutes? Thirty?

Even now the sunshine and the air and the color and the being of it breath through me. So beautiful.

And, like now, the time came for a different slant.

I was past hungry, having tried to save the beans for when they were really needed. Leaning against the fence I opened the can and found my spoon and savored nourishment that was as preserved as the air and the light were spontaneous. (Although I didn’t think of that until now. At the time I only thought how luscious those beans were.)

Half way through the beans I decided to save the rest for dinner. There was no putting the lid back on those sticky beans so I stuffed the open can in the top of the roll of my sleeping bag where it would be held upright.

I licked the spoon clean, put it in my pocket, and kissed that lovely moment and that beautiful, sun-lit space, Thanks.