The Deer

Something moving happened the other day. Real winter came here two weeks ago: suddenly the rain changed to snow and the nights became frosted with stars. In the morning, the pond at the bottom of the garden was covered with a pale white ice. Now it is so thick that I can stand on it and walk across.

And the cold lasted. In these new days of climate change, the temperature is seldom stable. One morning there’s frost; by that evening we are back to rain. But now, at last, several days and then many days with snow and fine skies and stars at night. The cold was intense: the temperature fell to minus nine on one night.

One morning I saw the deer behind the house. There is a path that leads into the woods by a wicker gate; that is why I christened the house Little Narnia. And there they were, perhaps twenty or thirty of them, looking at me from the edge of the trees, their eyes watching and their ears ready to catch a single click. As soon as I opened the back door they had fled further up the slope; they move softly and beautifully, grace in every movement. And there they stood and looked down on me, in every sense. I spoke to them; my voice soft and gentle, as I might have spoken to my child.

I went back into the house and found vegetables, anything that they might eat. I tore at shelves and cupboards and found things that they could have. And I went back out, still talking, and walked out over the snow to the fence and tipped everything down onto the other side. Then I went back and closed the door and stood there, watching.

They slid back down the slope, the bravest first. And they came to the bottom and started on old pieces of this and that, greedily finding all they could as fast as they could. And me, like a five year old child, with my nose pressed against the window, watching, happy.

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