In the evenings we’d put the children to bed in the tent, and if there was a chill we’d keep the cookstove going from the dinner fire by adding another log or two. We’d just sit, me and Chris, and listen to the hum of the woods, the quieting of the day. There’d be an occasional howl, maybe a whoo, whoo, whoo, if we were lucky. The dogs would barely raise their heads. We’d just sit and be quiet together. Resting from our day. I glanced over to the makings of our new house, seeing the boards draped over logs, the walls half built, ladders locked into place, tall in the air.
It was an evening of full bright moonlight, the large-silvery-orb-in-the-sky-kind when I noticed the deer. Moonlight lit up a doe and fawn in what was soon to be our front yard. I stared at them. I nudged Chris. We both looked. I could see the white spots on the fawn’s back, spots which hid him in the dappled daylight of the forest. I looked into the dark eyes of the doe, all attention and alertness. She didn’t move. Just stared at me with gentleness. I could see her dark nose, white rump, soft ears spread out in the moonlight. The dogs, quietly asleep, hadn’t noticed their smell yet. The magic of deer. They give their lives to us so that we can survive; a gift of food and warmth and compassion. I could see the gentle curve of her arched neck. She was so quiet I thought I could see her breathe. Then I heard a dog sniff, Sheba raised her head, and before her barking started the deer took off leaving a flash of white tail as a reminder to look within at our own beauty and grace.