Monday, March 27, 2017

Deer Too Close For Comfort

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Now that almost all of our snow is gone, it is stunning to look back on these pictures and be reminded of just how much snow we had over this past winter.
These pictures were all taken within 30 minutes as I happily trudged in both the back and front yards sometime in calm and freezing cold January.
We were still deeply entrenched in winter, snow had been falling with great regularity, and the world was stunningly clean, frozen and white.
The most beautiful season of all.
The deer stayed in town throughout the winter (and so far into early spring they still call this tiny town home). They clung together in a tightly knit herd of does and their yearlings, and roamed easily from one yard to the next in search of whatever they could find to eat.
Often we would find them curled up together underneath the protection of the tall pine tree we have in the back yard. 
Kory chased them out of the yard often, but they always returned and for better or worse, they are now almost tame around people.
At least the people who live in this this isolated desert community.
How strange it seems to write about a desert community when by this time we had thigh deep snow in the yard, and six foot snow piles all over the town, but there it is................ 
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On this day they were all roaming in the back yard, pawing at the ground to push enough snow out of the way so as to eat whatever hibernating grass they could find buried underneath so many feet of frozen white.
During the previous week the deer and Kory had all worn down a path between our tall pine and the house.
As they continued to paw at the ground (and eat the bark off our hibernating and long-suffering lilac bushes) I walked the path and stood under the pine tree watching them.
One lone doe was standing beside our lawn mower shed to my right, while the rest broke through the snow in the center of the yard.
For 10 minutes I watched this quiet and beautiful herd, and then one by one they wandered back to the path they had made and single file began heading towards me.
Surprised (and a little alarmed) I assumed that they would stop when they got too close for comfort.
They were used to people and friendly, but always a little watchful.
But they didn't stop.  They just kept coming.  Heading closer and closer to me................. 
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Finally realizing that these guys were not going to stop, I searched for a possible escape route.
The deer were friendly, they knew my face and we were reasonably comfortable in the presence of each other, but there were a dozen or so healthy deer now only a few feet away from me, and that was just a little too close for comfort.
Realizing that there would be no easy escape route, I stepped off the deer-made trails (between the lone deer by the shed and the rest of the herd that was now only arms distance away) and instantly sank into four feet of snow.
As they took the final few steps to reach the pine tree, it took me a few more minutes to circle around them and find my way back to the trail next to the back of the house.
Looking back at the deer and one of their favorite shelters beneath our tree............. 

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A few minutes later they followed me towards the back door.
I feel like I know them.
Their faces, their personalities, the mothers and their babies from last year.
As though they were friends who drop by regularly unannounced.
I like them a lot................... 
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We gutted an old camper late last fall and then rushed to get as much of both the inside and outside completed before the impending winter.
By the end of November we had run out of time, parked it in the back yard and meant to tarp it for protection over the winter.
"Meant to" being the operative phrase. 
Of course we never got it tarped and both LC and I wondered all winter how this incomplete project would fare, through all the rain and all the snow, and then all the melting.
Surprisingly, it made it through just fine.
Dry inside.
It is back near the front of the house as I write this, as we continue to work on it.
Maybe we'll finally get to camp this year................. 
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I physically shoveled more snow this past winter than all the other past winters of my life combined...............
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Kory playing in the middle of the road..................
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This old truck (located right across the road from the house) has sat in this same place - unmoving and forgotten - for as long as we have lived in this town.
I have photographed it as the sun rose very early in the morning.
I have photographed it as the sun set late in the day.
But I had never photographed it with snow covering all but the very top of it.  Not until this past winter.............. 
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Looking back towards the house...............
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From above you could see the chaos of entangled plots on the other side of the road, and a couple of tough tethered goats, and the glint of a frozen pond somewhere in the trees. Above them the sun was shining vaguely through the milky November sky, old but strong. In April – between the thaw and the jungly green explosion of summer – or in raw mid-October, I bet the same view would have been barren and depressing. But when we stood there all the bits of old tractors and discarded refrigerators, the shoals of empty vodka bottles and dead animals that tend to litter the Russian countryside were invisible, smothered by the annual oblivion of the snow. The snow let you forget the scars and blemishes, like temporary amnesia for a bad conscience..........A.D. Miller
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