Okay, so I know today is the day when I usually give the answer to the weekly puzzler and then post a new question but for a minute, I have to put that on hold to tell you this story. Because it is way too exciting to keep in my head until an appropriate time next week. Way too exciting!
I live in the middle of the woods, at the bottom of a mountain. If you walk out of my back door, not minding a steep walk up the slope without a trail as a guide, you can eventually get to the Pisgah National Forest. I know this of course because I have done it numerous times. Plus, I have looked at a map and seen it to be true. There are not a lot of houses scrunched closely together here so that the animals go about their ways with little care to our house in the middle of “their land.” From the house we have seen turkeys, bears, fox, raccoons, owls, opossums, hawks, and of course, many deer.
Today, as I was sitting leisurely in the sun room which is at the back of the house and its true crown jewel, I looked up from my book and noticed two male deer in the “side yard,” maybe 500 feet from where I sat. But they weren’t just any two bucks and they weren’t just nibbling on leaves or looking for acorns in the heaps of piled leaves. Instead, they were dueling, with their antlers hinged and in full-fight mode. Wow! I sprang from my seat with a new energy, raced to grab my camera and get back to the window where I could watch. And photograph.
I have seen deer dueling, but only on TV or nature movies, never in real life. I have seen males with giant antlers. I have seen buck rubs on trees. I have seen elk dueling. But never deer. And never from the comfort of my own house! I stood at the window, rapt, wanting to see every second.
It was amazing to watch, and even more amazing to actually get a few pictures. There were many obstacles between the deer and me–everything from trees to rhododendron bushes. The deer of course were not paying any attention to these things, moving around the forest like they owned it. With their antlers locked in battle, they pushed each other through the slippery leaves, both down on their knees at times, one getting pushed by the other and then the other way around. I could not tell a winner as both seemed to have racks of similar size and were getting pushed as much as they were pushing.
Back and forth they went through the leaves, with their antlers locked, their tongues out, their eyes wild. It was fierce. And exciting. And amazing. I imagined their ragged breath, the crunching of the leaves as they slid back and forth, the unmistakable sound of bone on bone as their antlers braced against each other. Back and forth, sliding through the leaves, their stomachs on the ground, their legs stretched out behind them. Forward and back, turning, then over again, one way and then the other.
And all this time, the world went on. Leaves fell from the treetops, silently landing on the already-covered ground. Breezes made the branches sway. A lone vulture floated in the blue sea above.
Down at the end of the long driveway through the rhododendron thicket, cars moved on, intent on arriving at their near and far destinations. Everywhere, everyone went about their day as it if it were the most ordinary day, just another Saturday in a long list of days.
After 5 minutes and lots of mutual struggling, one deer broke free and raced off through the woods, disappearing over the rise. The other followed. Then silence…. Then after two minutes, two does appeared from the opposite direction and ran off the way the bucks had gone. Would they meet up? Would the bucks continue fighting? Was one a clear winner?
Of course I don’t know the answers to those questions. Nor will I ever know. Dramas like this one play out in the Natural World everyday but most of the time we are unaware of them. There is a lesson in all of this. And it’s this: when the moment–A MOMENT– presents itself, there is nothing to do but SEIZE it! Grab it with both hands and every ounce of energy that runs through you. The moment might not be two deer locking antlers, but you will know it when it comes.
Seize the moment! It may never come around again.
If you want to read more about deer antlers, Click HERE. If you want to see what their scat looks like, Click HERE. Or if you want to learn more about whitetail deer, including why they battle like this, what it means when people talk about “the rut,” or what happens to a deer’s antlers after the winter, Click HERE. Hope you witness some equally exciting moment!