The storm has blown over. They heralded it as the big one of the year. It turned out to be a mere dusting of an inch or so on top of an already white world, along with a very cold east wind and subzero temperatures — but what is that for us Northerners?
However, all of the creatures in the woods seem to have wisely stayed tucked in for the day. None of this bravado of braving the elements for them. We do have some sunshine today, though, which may draw out a few brave souls to join me. However even Old Sol looks chilly up there in the white-blue sky.
And now, even as I extol the beauty of the creature-less winter wonderland, a single doe comes out of the woods straight ahead of me and a little to my right, about 100 yards away. I pick her up in my glasses as she moves across my line of vision toward my left and disappears into the woods again.
Normally picking out one doe in the woods would be such a ho-hum experience that I wouldn’t even remark upon it. But I had so convinced myself that I was all alone out here today that I thought I was seeing things with an overactive imaginaton at a distance.
She disappeared across that gap in the woods into a dense thicket to the left. It was one of those experiences where you scratch your head and ask yourself, “Did I really see something? Or did I conjure up the doe in my imagination?”
Then the thought occurred to me that I never see a single doe in the woods. She is always accompanied by does or yearlings or fawns.
So I swung my glasses to the left slowly and studied the woods for more deer. Nothing. I moved my eyes back to the opening where I had seen the doe, or thought I had seen her. Empty. Like there had never been an animal in that place.
Then suddenly (bless her heart) she stepped into the center of the opening, as if on command, and stood there regally, with her head lifted and focused in my direction.
“Thank you, ma’am,” I said, “thank you very much.”
Then a second doe stepped into the opening from the right. Then a third, then a yearling, a fourth, then counting, eight, nine ... 16, 17, 18, 24, 25!
“Thank you, thank you,” I said. “Let never be said that you weren’t there when I needed you.”
James Alger, who lives in Fargo, N.D., has been a summer resident of the Leech Lake area with his family for over 50 years. Over that time he has grown to love and appreciate the people and the woodlands of this area.
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