Encounter With Animals

Sydney Dell

© Copyright 2023 by Sydney Dell

Image by Mohan Nannapaneni from Pixabay
Image by Mohan Nannapaneni from Pixabay

Massanutten Resort. A gorgeous place.

My family and I were surrounded by nature.

With beavers, birds, squirrels, insects, the world was alive and vibrant.

But the most beautiful of them all was witnessing the miracle of life, the cycle continuing right before our eyes.

Our journey began with a walk through nature, stepping through the grassy and paved terrain in awe. I spotted a robin on a tree branch, which was twittering to another bird that I could not see in the leaves. That robin chirped its heart out, but as I got closer to the tree, it fluttered away into the breeze, disappearing into the sunny sky.

A beaver came into view next, half-hidden by the long grass on the other side of the road. It froze as it beheld the four of us, beady eyes darting around as it contemplated what to do next. Before any of us could move, however, it dove into a hole in the ground, the view leaving as quickly as it had come. I saw several more beavers, not just on that walk, but throughout the entire trip, so many that it became a game to spot them and the winner was whoever pointed out the animal first, as well as accurately too. I donít remember who won, but it was fun all the same.

Squirrels were no new occurrence, as I see plenty in my hometown, but they were abundant in Massanutten all the same. Several times, one would dart across the road with or without an acorn, not a thought in its head but food. I knew that feeling, but my focus at the moment was just enjoyment of nature and its beauty.

A few birds flew above us, two small ones near what looked like a larger one. It reminded me of when I had witnessed tiny finches defending their nests or their flock, soaring high in the sky around a large hawk. Each bird had dive-bombed the hawk one at a time, attacking the unfortunate avian that had come after the wrong flock, and I braced myself for the same here at Massanutten. However, the birds then dropped lower and I realized that the bigger bird was most likely a mother, leading its chicks through the sky. It just happened to be quite large.

Many things are not what they seem and animals are not either. Each squirrel I saw, I imagined to later be running home to a hole in the tree in which it lived and curling up with acorns, happy as it could be. It may not have been as intelligent as a dolphin or even a bear, but it was nevertheless happy it had survived another day. Even a simpleminded animal or other organism would be in a similar way, even without a brain. Thatís what I wondered as I walked along the road, admiring the glory before me. Iím not one to like bugs, especially those such as ants and bees, but they do have their uses to society and I saw plenty of the tiny things.

It was peaceful and almost quiet, save for when my family and I would make a comment about the weather or talk about what we planned to do for the rest of the day.

But as many would normally say, itís always the flicker of movement out of the corner of your eye that catches your attention and that holds the same for me as well. It was only the slightest twitch of a brown furry ear, but it was enough to make me look, especially since I had previously thought it was a statue.

ďItís a deer!Ē my little sister whispered gleefully. ďAnd itís so close!Ē

I did wonder why it was so close, especially since the animal appeared to be doing something that no one really wants to watch. But to our astonishment, my dad pointed out the hoof and it all connected in my mind.

This was life. A new cycle. This deer was giving birth.

For a few moments, we made eye contact with the poor female deer, who was frozen where she stood. She probably hadnít expected humans along her route, but if so, why have her baby so close to the road? It was alarming how she could have wandered into the street within a few steps and, as the saying goes, become a deer in headlights. Dangerous in so many ways, we stood in amazement as this beautiful specimen of Mother Nature looked at us. We were decently unsure of what to do until my stepmother spoke up and said, ďMaybe we should leave it to its business?Ē

And so it was. We continued on our walk. But I could not stop thinking about that beautiful creature, whom we had caught in the midst of bringing a new fawn into the world. Even through the robins and beavers, the mosquitos and lizards, I was the most shocked by that doe, the one who had dared. She had disappeared by the time we retraced the route back to our rental house, so I never found out what happened to her. During all of mine and my familyís walks, I saw many other deer, but I was always on the lookout for a mother and her fawn, a Bambi-like scene. Fawns, I know, can stand very soon after they are born and walk hours afterward, so if the doe had finished the birth after we had left, she would have been able to guide her offspring to a different place until it could learn to walk on its own. Or she may have moved away from the street, deciding instead to not risk any more interactions with humans.

This happened many months ago and I still remember to this day. You donít forget, even if it was awkward, the moment when you saw a wild animal up close, let alone one that was about to bring in new life.

I like to think that mother and her fawn are still prancing through the woods, happily living their lives, and no one can convince me otherwise, even years into the future.

Be happy, sweet creatures. Live your best life.

Sydney is an aspiring writer who likes writing short stories and is currently working on publishing her first novel. She sincerely enjoys being in nature and appreciates when she gets to see wild animals (although with some, it's better to see from a distance).

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