Perhaps more for me than for her, I decided to start taking Layla for an evening walk. I’d rather we take those walks along some mountain trail or at least on some path that gives a view of a lake, leads along some stone-bed creek or through a woods. But I am known to occasionally sacrifice my druthers for the sake of convenience and so I’ve opted for the streets.
Conveniently, there’s a 1.1 mile loop that takes us around Highland Street to where it meets the gravel version of North F Street. The gravel runs just over a quarter-mile from Highland to Radio Lane which leads back by our neighborhood. There are a few streetlights along the route and it seems there are fewer other dogs in their yards at night so I’ve taken to the darker version of our hike. The air is cooler and we’re still able to find our way around through the mystery of night. Knowing the terrain a bit seems to help, too.
The houses on the north loop of Highland are surrounded by trees and hills which make up something of an unofficial wildlife refuge. The first time Randa and I drove around Highland Street we saw a group of wild turkeys strutting through a yard. A couple of months ago, I saw a deer standing in our neighbor’s yard. So it wasn’t a real shock when I was walking Layla last Wednesday night and we surprised a group of deer in a yard at the corner of Highland and the bean field. Actually, the surprise was rather mutual but I have neither the reflexes nor speed of deer.
The deer jumped to their feet and retreated a hundred feet or so into the field and then turned and stared at us. Although she strained at the leash in eagerness to more closely investigate, Layla never barked or yelped. She did whine a time or two as I kept pulling on her leash and walking along the gravel, away from the deer.
On our walk the next night, I was a bit more prepared. I paused at the bend just west of the intersection where we’d seen the deer. Sure enough all five of them were back and this time all of them were lying in the yard, near the streetlight pole. I tried to point them out to Layla but it’s mighty near impossible to make a dog see something when they’re already interested in something else. As we neared the house, I moved to the far side of the street and kept watching the deer. I tightened my grip on Layla’s leash, knowing that she would be eager for the chase as soon as she spotted the deer.
The deer spotted us while we were still a couple hundred feet away. Their heads rotated in unison, ears erect and tilted toward us. We passed by within fifty feet of them; they never moved and Layla never saw them. I marveled at both facts but it was the wonder of walking so closely to a small herd of wild animals that most moved me.
We do not have to travel to the mountains or the oceans to see amazing things. There is always some wonder close at hand. Whether it’s the dew on a silver strand of web or rain drops hanging from the roses, we live in a world of small wonders and marvelous grace.
If we walk softly and keep our eyes open, we will find they often show up in the most unexpected places at a rather perfect moment.