welcome to the woods

4 October 2013 § 3 Comments

The one-doe welcoming party sat, belly pressed against the earth, chewing with her miniature jaw, her rabbit-like ears turning this way and that surveying the sounds of a forest at dusk.

I tramped down the gravel driveway, picking at the grossest zit of the decade on the search for a parking spot for the camp trailer. The deer’s obsidian spheres stared me down, judging my threat level with a kind of apathetic curiosity.

Without my glasses I’m not sure how I saw the forest-colored animal so long past sunset; perhaps something within knew I was being watched. We eye-gazed for a long while — five or six minutes, which seemed to pass so slowly I thought my minute two she saw through me and all of the things I’d done, like the eye of God – all without moving, or apparent fear. At one point I raised my hands to anjali mudra, prayer position, and said out loud, thank you.

The doe chewed on.

Not that I expected a “you’re welcome…?” but I felt connected enough to the moment that I thought she might witness gratitude instead of my stress.

In the book and film Life of Pi, the main character was more distraught not by the departure of the tiger Richard Parker, but that in the moments before he would disappear from the boy’s life forever, the cat didn’t turn around to offer Pi an opportunity for closure.

Hurt by his own anthropomorphizing, Pi understood only much later that the emotional connection was one-sided: Richard Parker learned by necessity and association to coexist with the human boy on the life raft; it was the latter who’d formed the friendship.

When Heather walked our way, the doe’s ears flicked toward her footsteps. I put one finger to my lips, and pointed to the animal, but the deer had already risen and was trotting across the grass and into the forest. Our moment was over. Gratitude or none, I was to her another creature in the woods, and though we would have spelled ‘pray’ differently, the words sounded the same.

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