Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Gently we were motoring through the woods, yards from the front door of our friend.
It had been such a long homecoming: we ran out of words as we turned onto the familiar forest path and understood that we were there, at last- it was not a photograph or a dream but a real scene, and we were in it and breathing it. Home again, after several years away; home again, so that our favourite small town lay just through the trees- striding distance.
A deer, slight and graceful, bolted from between the trees and halted when it saw us.
Spouse turned off the engine.
I must have looked like a deer in headlights myself, too thunderstruck to reach for the camera or to believe Spouse when he insisted I try to take a photograph.
"It'll run," I said. It was hard to argue without moving my lips. "If I twitch it will run away."
"Try," said Spouse.
I made an effort to reach for my backpack without moving my arms or my head or my eyes. My fingers closed around it; and then they curled around the camera; and then the camera was in my lap, its lens cap off, awaiting my instructions for posterity.
I thought that the deer would gallop away but it remained perfectly still, watching the pair of us. I felt sufficiently confident to roll down the window to improve the picture quality.
Most curiously, the deer granted us enough time to take another picture, and then another, and another, until Spouse and I were satisfied that at least one must have been acceptable. While we were scrutinising the camera's tiny screen, the deer slowly angled its head and studied another part of the forest, politely surveying the land while we fumbled with the camera. And yet- when I was ready to take one more picture, the deer recommenced its original pose of gazing straight into the camera.
I switched off the device, packed it away inside my bag.
"You can go now," I said quietly through the window. After all, we had a friend to catch up with and a whole town of memories to wander about in.
No sooner had I said the words than the deer was a faint brown blur among the trees- gone before Spouse started the engine, before I rolled the window up, before we resumed normal motion again.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 5:31 PM