It was one of those evenings when the air is close. A storm was coming. It was just after supper and I was on a mission to collect wildflowers. I wanted to get it done before the storm came, so I hopped into my dad’s truck. I hesitated, realising I’d forgotten my camera. I almost drove off without it, but at the last instant, decided to run back inside and grab it, “just in case.”
As I drove down my favourite back road, scanning the ditches for wildflowers, a mule deer stood up suddenly in the ditch right beside me, no more than ten feet from my open window. I stepped on the brakes and we stared at each other. I felt like I had stumbled into a secret. I made a move for my camera, and he leapt away. But not far, not far at all. He stood there and eyed me up as I fumbled around with my camera. He wasn’t scared of me. Just curious. He posed for awhile, them ambled away, apparently bored by my clicking shutter. He marked his territory, ate some flowers, watched me. Then, when he decided he’d had enough, he was off, bounding away through the fields as the dark storm clouds gathered in the distance.
I cannot describe the purity of that moment, the awe I felt, the deep calm. It was like I had been in the presence of God, or a god, or Nature itself condensed into the beautiful form of this buck. I watched as he made his getaway, south. Then I had to get home before the storm, the wildflowers momentarily forgotten.
The storm was short and violent, high winds and a driving rain, flashing lightning and booming thunder, and no damage, thankfully. As I waited it out inside the house, I wondered where the buck had gone, if he had shelter. I almost wondered if he really existed at all, or if the whole encounter had been a figment of my imagination.
After the storm, I ventured out again, to take advantage of the post-storm light, the most beautiful light there is anywhere. It did not disappoint. I half hoped I would see the buck again, but he was nowhere to be found. But the sky was there, and the light. You can always count on that. The calm after the storm and the calm in my soul matched each other that evening. It’s one I won’t forget soon. And to think, I nearly left my camera at home. Though, it must be said that these photos capture only the barest simulacrum of the magic that was that evening.