Winter Evening Encounter

February 15, 1993

My skis began to slip as I made my way up the gentle slope of a snow covered road.  The sun had set and the track, softened by the day’s warmth and polished by the passing of many other skiers, had begun to ice up with the return of the early evening’s cold.  As I rounded a slight curve, head down, concentrating on my uphill kick and glide, I was startled by the presence of a deer in the road, not twenty feet ahead.  My approach was from down wind so the deer had no clue that I was coming, save for the muffled sound of my skis sliding in the frozen track.  

We both stood there motionless, looking at each other, until the deer stretched out it’s gentle neck to sniff the air in my direction.  Apparently reassured that I posed no immanent threat, the deer carefully made it’s way from bush to twig along and across the road, feeding on whatever it found to be edible, all the while keeping a watchful eye on me.  I continued to watch the deer as well, while staying still in the middle of the road.  Slowly, the deer wandered off into the underbrush and at last was gone.  

I held my place for a few more moments, moved by this brief encounter between two of God’s magnificent creatures - one a wild creature of the forest, the other a creature of the city and civilization - who met on a snow covered road on a cold winter evening in February.  For a moment we had set aside our fear and allowed each other the privilege of contact that was, on some level, intimate.

As I again began my uphill kick and glide, I thought about the deer and its life and wondered If, in some way I could not comprehend, the deer thought about me.  

 © Don Yackel 2020