While food shopping on a rainy day lasy week, I passed a neighbor in the sundries aisle; she nodded a greeting and commented, in an exasperated tone, "What about this rain?" She's in her 70s.
You have to believe she's witnessed rain thousands of times, thousands of ways; wouldn't you think rain would no longer be a topic?
To casually mention the tone of a day or week's weather while waiting online in the U.S. Post Office lobby, I get. People intensely devoted to making the past, present, or future weather something that matters to the point that it's their primary source of interest, I find to be a curious thing.
Better you should talk about deer.
It's cloudy, rainy and damp today. I know, I know, after writing about how lame weather talk is, what do I do? I write about the weather. But I'm setting a scene; I'm not stating the obvious, conditions that might make some folks-folks who constantly harp about the weather-not want to take a hike. I'm not some folks.
At the 200 yard, flat run-out finish of my daily hike, my peripheral vision accepted a not small, not large deer, not 50 feet ahead.
The deer stood still. I mirrored the deer's stillness. My stillness lasts only so long. I've never done still well. In this case though, partly because I'm solidly middle age, I was able to stay still a good while (as I age, stillness becomes easier to maintain, stiffness, well ...) say, well, it's hard to tell, cause deer stare-down time may pass slower than it appears. Anyway, I stood still, staring for no more than a couple of minutes, during which time my mind was clear of all things but the deer, and the central casting Northern New England mid-fall landscape the deer and I shared.
The night prior to the hike, I'd eaten with some friends. Talk of travel became a topic, and when my turn to spout what foreign lands interest me to the point that I'd sit and watch a public television special on them, or, travel to them, I came up dry. I tried and tried to come up with a land I might like to visit, but I came up with zip. My friends looked astonished; they must think I'm odd to not want to travel, I thought.
Cooled from my hike, still standing still, staring at the deer, it hit me. I love Vermont. Not only do I love Vermont, I love the very spot of Vermont I live. The dirt, rocks, grass, air, slush-the works. I'm in love with Vermont.
Would a man or women, in love with their spouse, travel to another being to find nothing much different and no better then what they have with the one they love? Some do. I wouldn't.
When the deer, still staring at me, decided I am absolutely hopeless, and possess no game what so ever, he moved to leave. But he didn't just leave. No. He made a point of the fact that he's a deer and I'm a dork.
He lifted his front legs evenly to just above his shoulders, and rocked back-just like Trigger when singing cowboy Roy Rogers would really get after it.
Then the deer twisted his body to the right, touched his front legs to the ground, and took off straight away from me, prancing along the hard packed crusher-run gravel road, hoofs click-clacking as he ran. He didn't prance in a straight line, instead he strode his head forward hard left, then right, then left again, and back to center, and when he figured I was about in a state of stupefied awe, he came to a complete stop. Calmly in place, facing away, his tail a snow white two foot strip of fluffy fur, he bounded up in to the air, four legs two feet off the road, and then softly landed, touching his front legs, keeping his rear and both back legs off the ground a few seconds longer.
Watching deer run is good entertainment. But what I witnessed today while watching that deer, was a, not life changing, but I definitely would say life affirming moment.
With the deer out of sight, hidden by trees on the mountain, I stood, straining to hear strides my pal made as it bounded through the woods.
What next? I finished my hike with a smile spread by the knowledge that I just saved five grand on a vacation to somewhere I ain't visiting for fear I might miss the next show on my spot on the hill.
I've been thinking about that deer a bunch.
Hard to explain why, really.
Rusty DeWees tours Vermont and Northern New York with his act "The Logger." His column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen for The Logger, Rusty DeWees, Thursdays at 7:40 on the Big Station, 98.9 WOKO