THESE THREE THINGS 1150


Field Notes: Doe
Part 1

About once a year, a very strange dance occurs between our neighborhood doe and a buck. The buck, always the largest of the crew, stalks the doe from a distance of about 20 yards. She will not let him near her, and he will not let her out of his sight. So they walk and rest with about 20 yards between them. During this dance, the doe has hidden in raised flower beds, under a low cypress tree, and alongside a tool shed. While she hides, the buck finds his own resting place within sight of the doe. One year this included our back doors, and the buck stretched himself out with his back leaning up against both doors, while the doe hid in a raised flower bed. It wasn't until then that I recognized just how enormous a buck is. He stayed for most of the day and as the sun went down, they both left. For the last two days, two doe have been hiding and resting under our low cypress tree alongside the front patio. We walk right by them when entering and leaving the house and they are quite content curled up on wood chips sheltered by the low hanging branches. The buck is resting on the front slope. We cannot see him, but when the doe move, we can hear him in the trees and bushes that climb the rocky terrain. When the doe leave toward the end of the day and descend the driveway, the buck appears from the trees and follows them about 20 yards behind. We have seen them walking this way in the neighborhood. It is such an exact distance you could measure it with a string. There appears to be some understanding between them that the doe do not want the buck any closer, but the buck doesn't want the doe any further away. We never know how long this dance will last. Or when and where exactly it will take place, but the pattern exists all the same. Every year I am the most curious as to why this agreement and compromise is public. Surely this dance could take place in the woods. But for some reason, we bear witness at close proximity.

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