Moments after we pulled onto the “scenic” Skyline Drive a torrential downpour hit, slowing the few cars on the road to near-single digits. We inched our way to a rustic lodge that had some rooms left and scampered through the pelting rain, just grateful to find a warm, dry place in which to weather the storm. The remnants of our mid-day picnic became a bed-side feast as we peered out the cabin’s picture window into the torrent, which swirled on in the early evening mist.
Then the rain stopped, as rain has a way of doing, eventually. I stood on the sodden deck, surveying the forested hillside. A doe appeared, picking her way through a thicket of ferns just beyond our porch. I watched as she browsed through the lush undergrowth, choosing the choicest morsels, juicy green due to the summer rains. A pubescent fawn joined her, followed by what I could only think must be a close family friend, out for dinner on this fresh summer evening.
Tentatively, I ventured into the dripping undergrowth. Nothing stealthy about this clumsy guy scrambling through the forest, camera at the ready, holding my breath as if exhaling would divulge my presence. They eyed me quizzically, moving away every few minutes, but displaying a disconcerting certainty that — whatever I was — I was obviously harmless. The guests on the porch of the cabin next door seemed less comfortable with their neighbor’s behavior as I disappeared into the mist.
I hung out with my new hooved friends for close to an hour, climbing a hill and traversing a meadow — they feasting on green things and I imbibing stillness and the goodness of it all.
When I returned to the room, Charlene laughed in that good-natured way she does when I’ve been gone longer than anticipated but return triumphant, high on life ... albeit soaked to the waist by my latest adventure.