As evening approached, something nudged me to look out the window. Sure enough, there in the misty field, a deer foraged. Grabbing my camera, I tiptoed outside, easing the door open and then closed.
I rounded the corner stealthily, but as I had sensed its presence, so it sensed mine. It raised its head. Our eyes locked. We both stood still. My hands froze around my camera, stopping its ascent.
Time seemed to stop and swell, to ripen, as we stared at each other. I felt the weight of the camera in my hands, the hard ridged plastic of the telephoto lens against my motionless fingers. The catbirds sang back and forth in the nearby trees, and a woodpecker drummed. From far away, I heard the faint whine of a lawnmower. Still, we held each other’s eyes.
A minute passed.
Finally, one of the deer’s ears twitched. It took a big step backward, easing out of the thicket of shrubs. I held my breath, remaining still, my camera clenched by my side. Motionless.
The deer suddenly exhaled a loud warning “Huff!”, turned and bounded across the field, its white flag of a tail flying high. I quickly raised my camera and snapped a few pictures, expecting it to disappear into the trees. Instead, to my surprise, it stopped at the edge of the field, turned and looked back at me. I froze, camera raised to my eye, as it stared at me.
After a long minute, I retreated around the corner of the house. Perhaps if I left, I thought, the deer might return to peacefully eat the shrubs. I stood for a moment or two on the front deck, then carefully peeked around the corner. The deer was still standing there, silently staring in my direction.
Once again, our eyes met.
As I backed away slowly, I wondered just who was observing whom.