The eyes of a white-tailed deer are liquid and deep. Walking at a nature preserve, I sense and then spot a doe’s motionless face gazing at me from a dry creek bed. We stand alert and silent. Though I don’t see them, a young fawn or two are probably hidden nearby waiting for their mother’s signal to move. Birdsong, the wind and children’s voices in the distance fade away behind the curtain of green foliage. There is only this place and moment.
Low, heavy clouds lumber overhead, and the world narrows down to the bare-treed woods and pond. Outside, I listen to the quiet — so still that I can feel the pressure of silence. All traffic and aircraft noise is muffled and absorbed by feathery flakes. I hear only the occasional ruffle of wind swishing snow crystals across open space in powdery swirls. A lone crow soars black against the sky not breaking the stillness.
In the morning, the predawn darkness is tinted with the odd light that accompanies a new snowfall. I am up early and watch as daylight slowly builds beneath slate clouds. I hear no birds, but there’s a gentle huffing sound: the breathing of white-tailed deer. Gradually, several appear on the shore of the pond. They nibble the tips and buds of willow saplings and other tender plants that protrude from the ice-covered pond and its bank.
A second group grazes along the pond’s far shore. As I watch them, I daydream of seeing their spotted fawns in a spring world filled with green leaf buds, lush moss, wildflowers, glorious birdsong, and wood ducks and mergansers sailing on the pond. But for now, the winter world remains black, white and still.