The day had cleared, after a whole string of rainy days. Willie, Ruby and I headed toward the western entrance to the woods, and Ruby turned back, as she usually does, before we had crossed the field and walked through the opening in the trees onto the woods road. She hangs out at the house and waits for us to return.
Willie seemed eager and energetic, sniffing the air and trotting with his tail up and his ears perked — just like usual. We came to the spot where the snowmobile trail from town intersects with our woods loop, and turned right heading up a slight incline. The path there is a little bit damp, and the vegetation changes over from hemlocks to birches and beeches as we head up the small hill to walk the ridge (“ridge” being a little bit of an over-statement).
Willie was ahead of me and I saw him stopped in the path, intently sniffing at something. As I got closer I could see that the “something” appeared to be some kind of a dead animal. Ugh – I’m thinking, “Don’t roll … don’t roll!” Getting closer still, I was very sad as it looked like that dead animal was actually a very young fawn, curled up in a tight ball in the middle of the rocky path.
I was thinking about how difficult it is to survive in the woods, and wondering what Willie would do next, as I noticed that the fawn’s eye seemed to be open. Then it seemed that its eye was moving.
I was trying to decide whether I was seeing things or not, when the fawn swung its head around suddenly and let out one of the loudest brays I have ever heard come out of a creature that size! Needless to say, Willie was shocked and pulled back as the fawn struggled to standing on its spindly, new legs and wobbled off into the woods.
Thankfully, Willie minded me and didn’t give chase. (Had Ruby been there I’m sure the story would have had some very different details in this part — and not such happy ones!) Willie desperately wanted to follow the fawn, and kept turning back, even as we continued our walk. He minded each time I called, and I thanked him and congratulated him each time he minded. (I talk to Willie a lot – and sometimes wonder whether he finds that annoying.)
Anyway – there we have it – sweet Willie, who is enjoying the twilight of his life, coming nose to nose with a newly arrived, equally sweet creature on a sun-dappled afternoon. What an amazing juxtaposition! I felt touched, honored, moved to have witnessed such a scene. The world holds so many things — how grateful I am to have been privy to this one!