Monday, January 7, 2008

A Moment in Time

There are images that remain in my mind, filed in a special place, remembered for the impression they left upon me. Not a thing of particular beauty, but a moment that has escaped the ordinary.
So precious and rare, that even at the instant it occurred, it is known there will not be another like it.



The wooded ravine behind our house is home to a family of deer, walking the creek bed in all seasons, browsing leaves in spring and summer, hidden against the fallen brown of autumn. On a winter’s snow-covered backdrop, they become visible. And spend afternoons resting as a group, dotted upon the opposite bank.

Several years ago, they spent an afternoon there; while we, inside our house, looked out, pleased that the warm sunshine and still air would soon be welcoming spring. From time to time, one would stand and resettle herself a few yards to the side or start a game of tag with another young doe, bounding in circles, returning to rest. For the better part of the day they stayed, rooted to that spot, comfortably safe.

As evening approached, they rose to move on—all but one.
Her head gracefully laid back, the large doe that led them to this spot lay still, in the midst of her family, reclined in the sun. One by one, the others went to her, tentatively investigating her quietness--sniffing, nose-to-nose. They seemed to hesitate—unsure whether to stay, or go.
Then, slowly walked off into the woods.

Her body was still warm as I touched her—though her eyes were closed, chest still. Not a mark hinted of any trouble—perhaps she’d simply grown old.
Exactly when she’d died that sunny afternoon on the bank, we weren’t sure. But I wondered if she’d known her moment would be soon and brought her family to this spot to stay with her.

Over the next few days, we watched as her family returned to her side, with each pass through the creek bed, lingering there, sometimes resting with her, as they had days earlier.

By springtime, her body had returned to the earthen bank.



The path is worn daily, by deer seeking food, the cover of brush, the safety of the woods.
And behind the sycamore, is a perfect resting spot.

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19 comments:

Selma said...

What a beautiful writer you are. I'm hooked. I came her via TR and am glad I did. Brilliant!

Crayons said...

Exactly, I agree with Selma. This is a wonderful piece of writing, and it served a good purpose.

When I lived on an island off of Long Island, the deer population got too concentrated. Deer ticks, ruined gardens and car accidents were so bad that people called deer "tick bags." Your post helped me reconnect with a positive view of them.

MojoMan said...

What a lovely post, Nina!

Honestly, I never imagined a deer could have a quiet and peaceful end. I always imagined, should they be lucky enough to avoid hunters and cars, when weak and old they would be torn apart by coyotes or wild dogs. I like your ending better.

T.R. said...

Every time you write I always think it can't get any better - and then it does.

What a beautiful piece of writing. And I have oft wondered where the fauna of our woods goes to die. It's more beautiful than I ever imagined.

Thanks!

ncmountainwoman said...

What a lovely tribute to a fallen animal. Thank you for giving us pause to think seriously for a moment.

kate said...

This was a beautiful post - I wonder if the deer was hit by a wasting disease which seems to be affecting the deer population here.

It is good to know that the doe died a gentle death.

Diane said...

This is a lovely moment remembered and shared Nina. Thank you. Living in an isolated rural area we too share our home with wildlife though we've never been so fortunate to experience a moment such as this.

Lovely.

Diane at Sand to Glass

Julie Zickefoose said...

Head in hands, what else to say?

cestoady said...

Such an eloquent,even gracious, description of one of life's greatest moments --- even for deer.

A sharp contrast to your post of Nov. 7, where your perceptive words on the death of another deer are so touching-- but in a different way.

Jennifer said...

Wow... this brought tears to my eyes.

Mary said...

Oh, my. Knot in throat.

Beth said...

That was so beautiful. I'm grateful to have that lovely story in my mind today. Thank you

Michelle Johnson said...

I ventured here via T R's blog to find this wonderful tribute to one of nature's most beautiful animals. You simply had me in tears by the end. I am fortunate enough to see deer in front of our house (a field) from time to time. They never cease to amaze me. Before a house moved onto the field they grazed I could watch them sleep at night curled inside the weeds. Beautiful. I look forward to my return. Have a nice day.

T.R. said...

I just clicked on my "Bloggy Award" link - and guess who got reviewed today! Nature Remains - now Nina Comenichi of the Blogworld for her PERFECT 10!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!

nina said...

I'm so pleased that this story has touched others the way it touched me. I've carried it around for a while, almost afraid it would seem less than special, if I tried to capture it with words.
Thankfully, you all "get" it--just as I do.

Chris said...

What wonderful writing! Such a beautiful story, thank you!

kloh said...

This gave me chills. It's strikingly beautiful and sad. I love your blog because it reminds me of everything I miss dearly--I grew up in a country wooded setting much like yours, but left a year and a half ago to get my first apartment.

Laura said...

This is lovely. I stopped by here after your comment on my blog (Nurturing Nature). This piece caught my eye because we just spotted a few deer last weekend, in our own wooded ravine.

Oh ... and I found it interesting that you're in southwest OH (I grew up in Cincinnati), and you're on LibraryThing (I'm lindsacl over there).

So with all that, I'm now subscribing to your feed!

nina said...

Thanks Laura,
It seems we live parallel lives!