Winter Deer on the Mountain

By Mike Johnson

We had the roads plowed yesterday. Winter has arrived on the mountain.
6 degrees, 6 inches of snow and Iím not going to list another 6 because who wants to conjure that?
Besides, the mountain is overwhelmingly heavenly, even though the weather does get devilish.

The deer are taking their time arriving this year. A group of ten passed through at the beginning of the month but itís been all loners after that. Now that the snow has deepened, I expect a lot more company.

Living with the herd never gets old. They recognize us from prior years but start a bit skittish. Share a few free meals and youíre welcomed back into the tribe.

When I say welcomed, I mean it. They spend half their days around the house all winter. We step outside into the midst of two dozen and they barely notice. A few walk with us to the barn, hoping for a meal. Some let us pet them. They bed down to chew their cud and nap on the hillside behind the house. We have front row seats as they mate, antler-wrestle, wean fawns and in the spring, shed their antlers. They even stay relaxed near the Border Collie. Weíre a safe zone.

Everyone gets along here on the mountain.

Deer teach us pace. Their only clock is routine. And routine is established by whatís needed to survive, not by some ambition to thrive. No deer is out here hustling to hit stretch goals or meet key performance indicators.

To deer, life itself is the measure of success.

After a decades-long, circuitous journey, Iíve finally evolved enough to grasp the pinnacle of wisdom held by deer.


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