I don’t care what the calendar says. It must be spring.
After our deluged December and New Year’s weekend, we’ve been blessed with exceptional weather (so far), especially when we compare our stats with those from the Midwest and Eastern U.S. Not to mention Australia and I know, I know. It won’t last. One suspects there’s meteorological payback waiting ’round the corner somewhere.
But in the meantime, springtime-in-February is full of surprises here in magical Cambria.
Strawberries and asparagus are back at the market. Pines and eucalyptus are shedding pollen like yellow fairy dust. Hummingbirds are frolicking, and tiny frogs are big-time croaking. Narcissi are blooming, and bright yellow cape marigolds are flourishing in the brightly-green meadow.
The flowers and grass, combined with the unseasonable season, have finally brought back our deer.
During most of early 2010, many of them had hidden and dined among the meadow’s head-high grasses. Then we’d had the not-so-greenery trimmed to reduce fire danger, and I guess the animals got huffy when their brushy hideaway disappeared. So the very next day, they stomped off, sulked and stayed away for about eight months.
We really missed watching them from the safety of our elevated deck or glassed-in living area, or from behind the windows of the ground-level studio.
The deer are mostly gracious neighbors, you see, other than eating our flowers and plants (but our gardens are their buffet lines, after all).
They allow us to stay here. They look up, see us watching or taking photographs, and then calmly go back to munching the yellow flowers. The deer even eavesdrop on the cell-phone calls by visitors who have to go outside to connect.
And now our deer are back, thank goodness. A couple of does were the first we saw in the meadow, as they stopped by for a mid-afternoon snack. A few days later, a buck raced past, close to the back-40 fence, but not for long.
Then about 9 one morning, the whole herd was here. About 15 deer of all sizes — a few of them males still with significant racks of antlers — paraded purposefully past us, going from the slope on one side of the meadow to the gate on the other side. The deer didn’t dally around, but they weren’t rushing, either. It was almost as if there was a ruminants’ conference in Strawberry Canyon, and our deer were just barely on time for check-in.
The same group was back in the meadow on Thursday, Feb. 3, but this visit was very different. Husband Richard, Richard Greek and I were transfixed, puzzled and amused by what we saw.
The deer arrived in several groups of four or five this time, prancing and preening a bit as they meandered down the slope. As most of them gathered near a large clump of tall bushes, the alpha buck began to dance. He chased one female and then another. He bounced along as if he had pogo sticks attached to his hooves. He pawed in a pseudo-joust with another buck, and then ran several more times around the bushes.
And it’s not even rutting season!
In the meantime, a couple of other deer seemed to catch his high-spirited springtime mood, and they, too, began to skip around the stand of greenery. Their dance had me humming that cowboy song, “Home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play.”
It looked like mid-morning break time at preschool, when children finally let outside to play will cut loose and run off their pent-up energy, leaving panting adults loping along behind.
Back at the meadow, everything settled down much too soon. The now sedate and dignified deer strode in a leisurely manner toward the canyon entrance, then vanished from sight.
I guess all is forgiven for the meadow mowing.
Yes, there’s likely to be more wintertime ahead of us, bringing rain, wind and cold. While flowers, trees and humans may suffer and retreat, I’m sure the deer will adapt. They always do. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to watch from our springtime ringside seat, waiting for the next dance of the deer, no matter what season triggers it.