Saturday, December 5, 2009

In The Deer Park

Creatures tamed by shelled corn and the warmth of the
morning sun, the group of does strides away from the pond
beside the road, taking tentative steps up the hill, then
pausing to look back at me with curiosity.

Their coloration under the winter overcast matches the tawny
texture of the goat weed, the burnt cast of the grass, the
outcroppings of the canyon's layers of limestone, the gray
of the scrub oaks and the contrasting evergreen of the cedar

With a sudden snort of the leading lady, they flash their
white tail flags and disappear into the brush as if they
were never there.

Around the bend, an eight-point buck, proud and secure in
his role as the dominant male in this family of his, stands
in challenge to my intrusion, walking in a half circle, his
nose point toward me on the road below, then turning in
profile as if to say he is unimpressed with any threat my
presence may offer. As I gaze at him from downwind where he
can't really place my scent, he seems to change shapes and
colors in the morning sun, becoming translucent, then
transparent, only to return to full corporeal contrast and
as I glance away to put the truck back in the gear and drive
away, he steps up, into the brush, and disappears as if he
was never there, after all.

I am sure he is still there somewhere in the trees, antlers
held erect, his eyes boring holes in my profile, ready to
flee at the slightest hint of man threat. He is gone, so
gone, so ready to join his harem that he is a part of some
realm untapped by my mind, only witnessed at odd moments.

This is the deer park, hundreds and hundreds of acres and
acres of land that climbs to a plateau over deep canyons of
limestone piled layer upon layer as if courses of the stuff
had been piled higher and higher by unseen giant hands,
trees and weeds and grass clinging to cracks and layers of
soil blown there from the prairies to the north. High wire
fences surround the area, its three tiers over the valley of
the creek below segregated by gradations that force the
creatures to wind down to water and feed on a daily basis
after their night's retirement in the shelter of brush and
overhanging canyon walls to shield them from the cruelties
of the harsh winds from the north.

Sitting amid the rocks, one finds shells of mollusks from
ancient times unrecorded, concretions in the floor of an
ancient shallow ocean that is no more.

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