The other morning, I was moving about in typical get-to-school-and-work-on-time fashion, when I happened to glance out our back patio door. Any sense of rush I felt was immediately disrupted by the sight of a deer, standing ever so still on the berm in my backyard and staring at me with casual intent. It was one of those moments where you look, then look again, wondering in that instant between if what you think you've seen is actually there, or if it's instead some sort of momentary hallucination.
Sure enough, there stood a deer. With each breath it took, steam rose like a halo around its head. The deer watched me watching it, and I stood transfixed before gathering myself enough to call my sons.
I was afraid their commotion would scare it off. To the contrary, when my sons rushed to the glass door and looked out, the deer broke its gaze with me and impassively turned its head to survey the yard. Then, almost breathless with wonder, the boys and I watched as another deer emerged from the reeds in the irrigation ditch that runs adjacent to our backyard.
Others followed. It was remarkable how well they were camouflaged; their coats blended seamlessly with the brownish wintry landscape. Were it not for their graceful movements, we'd likely have never seen the rest of them. The small herd included a young buck, what appeared to be several does and a few juvenile deer. We saw seven in all.
No doubt recalling some recently-read Christmas stories, my youngest son kept saying, "Hi, reindeer!" Only when our dog came to the back door and gave them an overly enthusiastic greeting did the deer decide it was time to move on. One leapt over the fence that separates our yard from our neighbor's, and the rest meandered back down through the frozen reeds in search of a more peaceful spot.
My sons and I stood there a moment, taking it all in. I've chronicled other wildlife sightings in our yard in the past, but there has never before been anything like this. We were utterly enchanted.
Afterward, I remembered visits to my grandparents' home in Pennsylvania when I was a little girl. I'd stand by the window in their bedroom for hours, watching with wonder and fascination as deer roamed their yard. Their elegance and gracefulness mesmerized me, and I still feel that way whenever I see them now. For my sons and I to have shared such an up-close-and-personal experience with this group of deer felt like magic.
I love where we live.
Amy Roby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.