"Why should I say more about the green of the meadows, or the rows of trees, or the beauty of the vineyards and the olive groves? … For where can old age find more genial warmth of sunshine or fire … more cooling shade or more refreshing waters?"
Our old dog, Misty, and I walked down the one-lane, dead-end country road just before sunup. Suddenly, four deer walked out of the woods in single file. We stopped and stood motionless, admiring them. Misty had neither seen, smelled nor heard those does.
They stood motionless, too, looking at the dog and me. I scratched Misty’s neck to keep her attention. I studied the deer - their immaculate satin coats, the broad ears sticking out wide to catch every sound, those spindly looking feet and legs.
Four beautiful does! Finally, they walked slowly across the road, munched a few bites and then, one at a time, sprung up and over the barbed wire fence on the other side. Their short tails stuck straight up in the air, the white underneath side flashing as they seemed to actually float for a moment en route.
They hid themselves in the underbrush by standing absolutely still, frozen in place, looking back. At first I could see only two, then three then finally all four. Deer easily blend in with the natural tans of dry leaves, trees and brush in the woods.
Finally, I started walking slowly and quietly, hoping they’d not stir.
Stop! A large buck streaked across our path, muscles rippling, front legs reaching far forward, antlers balanced. Without hesitating he floated over the barbed wire and into the brush, and all five deer were gone. What a sight!
I’ve seen few bucks up close. One seemed to be racing our car one time when we came around a sharp bend in the lane and surprised him while he was grazing at the west end of our hayfield. For almost a quarter-mile it was nip and tuck, but we slowed to let him make a getaway.
But I’d never been as near to a beautiful buck as to this one. He’d been waiting in the woods until his females were safely across the road, over the fence and into heavy cover in the woods. He must have started across just as Misty and I resumed our walk. He made a dash out of the woods, up, over and then he was gone. It must take a lot of courage to survive in the wild, protecting four females.
As we walked on, I thought of the people who miss such an interesting experience: doctors who’ve handled emergencies in the night, people driving on busy highways, students rushing to classes, farmers feeding livestock and readying their machinery for the field. Old Cicero knew that such joys enriched the lives of the elderly.
Turning from the county road into our private lane, I thought, "Thank you, Miss Johnston and Cicero, for leading me to this time, late in life, and this place - with deer in my green meadows and groves of trees."