Shelter in place

by Lorin Michel Thursday, October 19, 2017 8:13 PM

It’s not uncommon for us to see a lot of creatures up here on the hill. During the summer, many tend to be of the reptilian variety but now that we’re heading, albeit slowly, into fall and cooler temperatures, the warm blooded animals of the desert are reappearing. This morning, we had a desert rabbit just outside the bay window in the master bathroom and just above the drive. As we walked west with the dog, we encountered a mama javelina and her little javelin-ette. They were standing in the road, staring right at us, daring us to come forward. We stopped, they continued frozen. Finally Kevin put his hands up in the air as if to say “WTF?” and the baby nudged the mom – “Come on, mom, let’s goooooo!” – and she turned and off they trotted into the desert south.

Further down, there were two deer in amongst the rocks of a wash. We stopped to look, they looked back. Then we continued on and we assume they continued to forage for food. 

On the way back, the deer were gone, but we encountered another single javelina in the road. Normally, these animals travel in packs so it was odd. We stopped, Riley whined, and then this one lumbered across and disappeared into the desert north. 

We continued on our walk, finally ascending the road that leads to our house. We do this walk four to five times a week, always taking Sundays off – the day of rest, we jokingly call it – and often Wednesdays. If it’s particularly hot or we’re too tired or it’s too late, we don’t go. The last climb is difficult and though we’ve been making it now for some two and a half years, it never gets easier. We get to the top and we are always winded, tired. In the summers, sweating profusely. We tell ourselves that it’s good exercise, that the dog needs his walk, both of which are true. But the real truth is that we’d both probably never do it again if we had our druthers. 

Druthers is such an interesting word isn’t it? I love that word.

I digress.

As we started across the driveway toward the front door and thus sanctuary and coffee, we heard a strange noise from above. It didn’t quite sound like a bird; we thought perhaps it was some type of cat, maybe a mountain lion or a bobcat. We don’t see them often but we know they do haunt the hills. We stopped and listened, and then, over the rocks to the east, came a single deer. She leaped down and across other rocks, then slowed as she picked her way through the cactus. 

It’s not unusual for us to have deer above the house. It happens fairly regularly though we haven’t seen any recently. This one stopped above us, ears pointed and twitching. We watched and said “hi,” as we often do. When Riley started to whine, I brought him in the house, and shortly thereafter, Kevin followed. 

From the kitchen window, we could see her. She moved slightly toward the west, then stopped behind a saguaro and turned back to the east, so still she could have been a statue. Kevin got his camera and we watched through the zoom lens. We could see her muscles twitch, her breathe in and out. It seemed that she was either waiting for the rest of here friends or family to join her, or, if there had been a cat, she had gotten away and the word in the herd was to always shelter in place.

She stood there for at least 45 minutes, maybe closer to an hour. We kept waiting for others to appear. We scanned the hillside with binoculars, looking for movement, signs of more. We never did find any and eventually we had to go to work. When we came back for coffee a while later, she was gone into the desert.

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