A ‘deer’ moment in time

I felt a bit guilty parked in the middle of the road, leaning precariously across Jonathan’s lap, my lens pointed out his open window.
I was – technically – doing the very thing I’ve often criticized.
In my defense, it was a back road.
For that matter, it was “my” back road, the rarely traveled dead end where I learned to toddle and ride a bike, where I skinned my knees countless times and first climbed behind the wheel with my father encouraging me “just a little bit more, come on, it’s OK to push it above 5 mph.”
And this was one of those “chances of a lifetime,”
I’d slowed, at first, because the mother deer and her fawns were standing too close to the road for my bumper’s comfort.
With a definite awareness of the effect my insurance premium can have on the bottom line of my checking account, I wasn’t taking any chances.
Jonathan and I waited patiently for mama and babies to scamper across the road to the safety of the river.
But they didn’t.
After sizing me up, the doe had apparently decided my Grand Am was nothing compared to the downed apple tree branch she’d found for her flock to feed on.
She proceeded to crunch noisily at the fruit, her eyes fixed on Jonathan in the passenger’s seat.
Putting the car in park, I reached carefully for my camera bag on the backseat (a reporter has to be prepared, after all), and slowly but deliberately switched off my lenses.
Dropping my shutter speed and adjusting my aperture – I wasn’t going to chance a flash – I leaned across the gear shift and Jonathan.
I caught Mama, flies buzzing her head as she lifted a juicy morsel from the ground, two leaves hanging from her snout.
Click. Click.
Her babies – first one, then the other.
My elbow nestled somewhere in Jonathan’s chest, my ears listening for motorists who’d expect me to move, I snapped furiously for a full minute or two before Mama stood up.
Flicking her ears furiously – back, then forward – she stared farther up the road.
Jonathan had just noticed the same thing Mama Deer was eyeing.
“There’s a dog,” he whispered gently in my ear.
Before I could swing my camera in the other direction, she was off, her white tail bouncing into the dark depths of the trees.
Her babies took a few more bites at the apple before they – too – took off into the evening.
Bounding into my parents’ home minutes later with my camera in hand, I had one of those déjà vu moments in reverse.
I was a young child again, sitting beside my brother in the rear seat of my mother’s Chevy Blazer, parked in the middle of our dead end road.
Her window down, she pointed to a family of deer mere feet from her driver’s side mirror.
“Look, guys,” she whispered. “Can you see it?”
She spoke in the awe-struck tones of a city girl turned country, to two country kids who were bored to tears, two kids who saw the four-legged creatures outside our windows as everyday as white bread.
“Uh huh,” we told her. “Let’s gooooooo.”
Disappointed, she did.
But Sunday night, she picked up my camera for a look-see just as quickly as she stopped that old blue Blazer more than a decade ago.
And to her credit, she scrolled through them all with that same glee.

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