20 Below Zero Hero

By Mike Johnson

The deer trust us. We provide food and safety.

We’re in our third brutal cold event of the winter. I saw a few deer bed down in the minus-10 backyard last night.

Now at 3am, it’s twenty below zero.

I needed something out in the barn. Once I stepped outside, like children of the corn, silent deer kept appearing at the edge of darkness, bordered by the foggy, amber barn light.

Fifteen gathered in a circle, all broadcasting the Jedi mind trick message, “FOOD.”

It worked. I know the process of eating and digesting also makes deer warmer.

The plow truck cleared a foot of snow last night. The driveway area at the barn is the shape of a childhood hockey rink, surrounded by tall snow banks.

So I fed the deer their favorite grain mixture, spaced in small piles throughout the plowed oval.

At 3am. On a minus-20 morning. In the barn light, at the edge of the forest, on the mountain.

Everyone was calm and reverent. Even as the dog and I passed three feet away.

I wish I’d taken a picture. I just tried but the deer have returned to bed. So you get a photo of a winter daylight feeding.

The deer didn’t say thanks in words, but their demeanor did.

I didn't tell them thanks in words either, but this post just did.

Now we're all feeling just a bit warmer.


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