Monday, July 14, 2014

Just Like the Silent Movies

It's not just the fishing that draws me to the river but also the sights and sounds that I encounter on each of my journeys. I leave the cell phone at home now and only, on occasion, do I take my camera with me. I would much rather pay attention to what I see and hear rather than to be distracted by the, "Hey, where is my camera? Can I get a picture of this?" A mental image requires one to pay attention to the details of the sight as it is unfolding; to file it away only to conjure it up during those inane faculty meetings and the like.

Yesterday was no exception.

I was meandering along a path on an island on the Farmington River early yesterday morning. The sun had not quite broken through the clouds. The ground and rocks upon which I trod were still wet from a brief shower from the day before. I was picking my way through the trees when I glanced along at the river as I paralleled its journey. Up above were some riffles and pocket water that I swear I will get back to and fish. And as I continued to watch and make plans for my future excursion to the river I saw some movement in the water. The branches and leaves were all fighting for the same view as I so I had to peek through a small opening that yielded a surprise.

A very large doe was crossing the river just at the head of the riffles. Heck, I figured if she could cross there then I certainly could also make the cross as well. Then I noticed that something was hot on her heels. 

She had a fawn with her. The little guy was bound and determined to keep up with mom. Her fawn didn't tumble nor did it hesitate. I would have to say that I was even a bit jealous of how easily it crossed. And even after a brief swim through some water that was a bit too deep it did catch up. The two of them walked a few more steps and then stopped as they headed to the same river bank that I was on.

I thought she was staring in my direction and that she had detected my curious eyes. I held fast and didn't move because I did not want to startle either one of them back into the water.

But as I took in the scene before me I noticed she wasn't even looking in my direction. She was looking back at where they had come from.

All of this was unfolding while I was listening to the tranquil song of some orioles that were near. Off in the distance I could hear the boisterous noise of some crows. It was obvious that they were miffed about something. Then there was the sound of the water as it gently coursed over the moss covered stones in the riffle. And I was reminded of a silent movie.

And just like a silent movie has a pit orchestra that plays along as the scenes unfold, the doe and fawn moved through the water without a sound; the birds and riffles accompanying her movement along with her two fawns.

Yes, she had a second one and that is what she was looking back for. The second fawn that was just a bit tinier than the first and had a splay of spots that reminded me of miniature spot lights. This little guy was a bit more hesitant. He did not venture out into the water with the same abandon as the first one did. This one was clearly more tentative with the path that the doe had taken. The water level was even deeper for this little guy but he did eventually make it across. 

The doe waited a bit and then bounded up the river bank and into the woods. I lost sight of her in the thick underbrush ahead of me. As I started back on my walk along the path I made every attempt to remain as quiet as possible. It was my plan to get ahead of them and then turn around to see where they went.

I rounded a corner and hunched down and waited. Sure enough.

Momma approached the path I had just walked up. She was about 10' from me and stopped. She had spotted me. Immediately her ears started flicking back and forth and she stomped her right foreleg. I stayed still while she looked at me with those Betty Grable eyes of hers. Deep, dark brown eyes that were wide open with worry. 

I even held my breath in hopes of not scaring her away from her destination and watched her back with the same intent she had on me. Slowly I could see her relax and put her head down. Slowly she continued on across the island on some path that only she could see. She leapt over a fallen tree with all the grace you could imagine. The bigger of the fawns followed and performed the same graceful leap on a miniature scale. I waited to see what the smaller fawn would do. Sure enough, the smaller one took some quick steps bounded over the tree and off the three of them continued through the woods. 

And all of this without a sound from them. 

Not one twig crunching. No leaves brushed. 

Silence. Just like the silent movies.