The days are slowly but irrevocably starting to get longer again, and as I drove towards the house early one evening last week, I looked up at the sky and instantly realized for the first time that winter is almost done.
When we were in Cody the first time (in 2011) it was still freezing cold, very windy, and sometimes snowing throughout the month of April.
The East Gate of Yellowstone National Park didn't open until the second week in June that summer, and even in June the Beartooth Highway (that spans portions of both Montana and Wyoming) had to be ploughed and contained snow banks on both sides of the winding two-lane highway that were taller than our truck.
So maybe winter is almost done or maybe it isn't, but regardless it is still daylight at 5:30pm now and that is always a good sign.
After pulling off the Greybull Highway on the way home, I pulled onto the first of a few rutted out, washboard-like gravel roads that I needed to slowly drive during the last couple of miles to the house.
On these back roads deer make a regular appearance.
They roam freely and without fear, on the small ranches and large properties that make up this area, often sharing pastures with herds of horses and antelope.
For all intents and purposes they could almost be called domestic deer, because these pastures close to homes are also THEIR homes.
People are not supposed to feed them but I know some who do. I wish they wouldn't because the thought of people deliberately domesticating any animal that is supposed to be wild is unsettling, but ultimately I don't lose sleep over it because I like having the deer around.
There is one winding gravel road located close to the lamas where deer sightings are as predictable as the sun rising in the mornings, so driving is always a slow and watchful affair.
Sure enough I rounded a bend in the road and caught sight of a small herd that was grazing alongside the road in front of a home.
As I approached them I slowed down even more, always uncertain how they would respond to my truck.
And then I smiled inwardly.
Some veered into the yard of the home and some veered right into the middle of the road in front of me.
Coming to a complete stop in the middle of the road I made a reach for my camera, that is always waiting patiently for me in the external side pocket of the pack I carry.
These beautiful and sweet things were obviously in no big hurry to part so that I could drive by them, and in truth I was in no big hurry to move them along.
Their presence in the road was the perfect excuse to just sit there and enjoy the peaceful sight of them.........
I had been so enthralled with the deer in the road and in the yard that I had not even realized that I was also quietly being watched..................
In this brown and beige world that is winter in Wyoming, the deer in the yard blend so perfectly that they were almost impossible to see.
But they were there, and while those in the road continued to stand around seemingly unable to decide what to do next, those in the yard contentedly grazed..........
A few more indecisive minutes and both divided groups eventually rejoined again to form one cohesive herd.
I continued towards home having enjoyed (as I always do) an unexpected animal encounter...............
If you really want to know who is with you, don't look around, just close your eyes and look inside your heart..............Senora Ray