Tag Archives: deer

Printless as eyelight.

I came upon this haunting poem again, and though it seems I must have posted it here many times before, the evidence shows that I have restrained myself. Today, I indulge myself instead. I’m sharing the photo and thoughts from a previous post, because nothing has changed, except my readership.

I continue to wonder about layers of meaning in the poem… “printless as eyelight” is a phrase appropriately elusive to me. Are they “beautiful flocks of the mind” only because their image stays with us as memory, or because they represent some of our own less dull thoughts?


Shy in their herding dwell the fallow deer.
They are spirits of wild sense. Nobody near
Comes upon their pastures. There a life they live,
Of sufficient beauty, phantom, fugitive,
Treading as in jungles free leopards do,
Printless as eyelight, instant as dew.
The great kine are patient, and homecoming sheep
Know our bidding. The fallow deer keep
Delicate and far their counsel wild,
Never to be folded reconciled
To the spoiling hand as the poor flocks are;
Lightfoot, and swift and unfamiliar,
These you may not hinder, unconfined
Beautiful flocks of the mind.

-John Drinkwater

When my grandson asks what is my favorite animal, I have to say it is the deer. To watch one bound away after it is startled in the forest is a captivating sight, none the less that it is normally quite a brief glimpse, of great strength and speed combined with grace.

[In 2009] we visited a farm where white-tailed deer are kept as livestock, and viewed the corrals where the lovely animals are kept but evidently not tamed (“never to be folded reconciled”). The deer in the pen closest to us seemed to be frightened at our presence. The farmer was not there at the time and I don’t know if his presence is any less disturbing. I couldn’t take my eyes off the deer zigzagging nonstop in its cage; to watch that beauty without it disappearing into the trees was very odd. We weren’t there long enough for me to get used to the vision that is usually so rare. Nor did I begin to feel reconciled myself to coming near upon their pastures.

The photo of deer above was taken while walking down the street in an Oregon neighborhood. Perhaps those deer are calm because they are still “keeping their counsel wild.” No one is threatening them. If I’d had my camera that day at the corral, I might have taken a sad video of a wild animal from whom I was at that moment stealing something. In that moment I wasn’t thinking about these things; I didn’t think there was anything wrong with breeding wild deer. But since I came home and read Drinkwater’s poem again -– I have treasured it and worked at memorizing it for decades -– I am reconsidering.

Images from the week.

deer at coast 8-26-15My grandson drove over to move some free dirt that had to be dumped in the driveway because a Bobcat loader was still here blocking the way to the backyard.  I should have taken a picture of him shoveling for me, but instead I’m stealing one of the pictures he took later on, when he hiked at the coast in the evening and saw dozens of deer on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific. I know this one doesn’t look real, but it is.


Zinnias volunteered in my garden this summer, mostly the orange trailing variety, but also one tall yellow specimen, which a butterfly visited just as I was getting out of my car — I asked him to stick around while I dropped my bags on the ground so I could take his picture, and he fluttered back and forth, but re-landed enough times that I was successful.

Yes, I am ashamed of all that basil flowering in the background. I told you I haven’t been cooking!


I attended a Vigil service at a nearby parish for the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, Old Calendar. A Slavic custom that was new to me was the greeting of their bishop with an offering of bread and salt. After he tore off and dipped a piece, he offered a bite to the young woman holding the platter.

IMG_0604 crp bread eat

On my way home the moon was so big and bright, I had to stop and take its picture, and now I’m hunting for a moon phase widget to put on my blog site.

IMG_0606 moon crp

They shun zinnias.

They are on all sides, the deer. If I go on the front lawn to throw the frisbee with Scout, a doe named Splotchy is waiting under the crabapple tree wondering if I am a kind human like my son-in-law and might shake down a few fruits the way he does. Her doe looks on from a greater distance.

If I exit the back door and head off near the woodpile to shake the dirt out of a rug, two deer are startled and bound away into the forest, showing not much more than their flying hooves behind them.

Standing at the kitchen sink after breakfast or before dinner, we are likely to see out the window one to several does and fawns grazing on the lawn or standing by the garden fence, nibbling…what?

Evidently they are not nibbling at the zinnias, and I think it truly amazing. Pippin with unbelievable optimism grew these tall and lovely flowers from seed and they are still growing and blooming and decorating the yard, outside the deer fence, and not taking up space that the vegetables need.

The Four Fawns

It’s the butternut squash and the cosmos that the creatures want, so they keep checking in case a leaf grew through the fence during the previous night. If it didn’t, they can always chew some more on the lantana that they have eaten nearly to a stub.

Since I’ve been here at Pippin’s, more than once we have been surprised to see a group of four fawns, without their mothers, come out of the forest and walk straight over to the fence to snoop and sniff and nibble around. This is very unusual and makes us speculate as to what is going on at home. Do the does say, “Run along, kids, you’ll be safe at that place where the people are nice.”

Or do the mothers not know where their children are? Has there been a breakdown in deer society, so that adolescents are now roaming around in gangs? Shortly after I arrived ten days ago, The Professor came in the house to announce that he had found a different doe with her fawn on three sides of the house. But a couple of days later, this change.

What can the mothers be doing when the fawns are away in their group? Having a coffee klatch? I don’t suppose we will ever know. And as long as the fawns keep up the tradition of not eating zinnias, I won’t fret about it.

Fast Trip South

Soldier and Doll welcomed me to stay at their place overnight so that I could be at my son’s graduation from a 16-month course at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey early in the morning.

lupines and more

As I backed out of our driveway at the beginning of my trip, the car thermometer registered 91°. On the Golden Gate Bridge it was 61°, in Santa Clara County 94°, and by the time I got to Monterey, back into the low 60’s. I kept busy putting the car windows up and down and the A.C. on and off.



After dinner that night we walked on the boardwalk at Asilomar Beach, and took pictures. We definitely needed sweaters out there.

Some of the large Presidio herd of deer were relaxing near the gate next morning… …and did not pay much attention to our important event.

Soldier graduated with honors from his program, and after the ceremony and picture-taking with teachers we went out for omelettes and waffles. Before I knew it, it was time for me to pack my sleeping bag in the car and drive through the bands of warm and cool again to come home!

Today I’ll be back at my usual tasks — I mostly wanted to put up a few pictures to remember my fast trip.