Woodland creatures freak me out. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not an animal hater… I walk around holding my cat-like it’s a baby. But in the wild…or the confines of my neighborhood…or upon encounter on my morning run….just not a fan.
It all started when I realized that those low flying birds at daybreak are not, in fact, birds, crossing over in front of my feet. They’re bats. Total bat-a-phobe.
Then, I started to hear about coyotes roaming around town in the morning. Not cool.
Shortly thereafter, while walking back from a post run stretch by the lake…I looked over to see a fox staring right back at me from a neighbor’s yard. It was a HUGE fox, and it was staring at me. As I walked, it walked…a backyard away but kept pace with me…side winding all the way to the next neighbors yard. Uncool, fox. And, no…I don’t know what a fox says.
After a while, there were just too many creatures to keep tabs on…not to mention the teenage creatures veering over into the bike lane on their way to school in the morning. I decided to hang up my glowing vest and blinking lights, and wait until the sunlight began to chase all critters back home and off of my running route. It has been a smashing success. For two whole hours in the morning…while both of my kids are at school…I can meander around the beautiful streets of this little lake town in which I reside, without fear of being the first person mauled to death by a woodland critter.
My two little girls and I started cutting through a wooded path in the back of our neighborhood this summer to get to the beauteous paved bike path on our side of town. As the leaves started to change in the fall, I found myself drifting back that way more and more…until every run began that way. Relaxing as I jogged through the beauty of God’s spledor…leaves falling as I made my way down the path. Always on the lookout for the fox that resides in our neighborhood…so far there hadn’t been anything to spook me but a skittish squirl here and there.
Until yesterday. Out for my run, in the broad of daylight that is 9:30 in the morning, came a woodland creature encounter. My favorite path through the woods, the one that connects me to all of the running routes that I have now clocked a distance on, blocked.
Thank the good Lord above that I saw him when I did. Halfway into the woods, as I looked ahead to take in the breathtaking bed of leaves that had fallen on the path, my eyes met that of an ENORMOUS deer.
I stopped dead in my tracks.
“Seriously?!?!?!” I thought? “A flipping DEER?!?!?”
Although I did think about it, I quickly ruled running past it out. Instead, I decided to reason with it.
“Go on, move, ” I told the deer. “Please?”
He just continued to stare at me…which I gather means, “No, thanks.”
“MOVE IT! GO ON, GET!” I yelled.
More staring from the deer.
(I’d logically insert a picture of the deer here, if I’d have taken one…but I feared it would thing my i phone was a deer snack…)
Still not ready to relinquish my cherished running path to said deer, I conjured up one more brilliant idea.
“I’ll make a really loud noise to spook it, ” I thought to myself…or maybe mumbled out loud…I can’t be sure. “I’ll find a huge stick and hit this big tree I’m standing next to so hard that it sounds like a gun shot…which the deer will no doubt recognize from hunting season…and he’ll run away scared.”
So there I am… standing in the woods…my headphones blaring Hillsong United at such a high volume that the deer might have been pausing to praise the good Lord, himself…
…looking for a stick….
With stick in hand, I wound up like I was getting ready to hit a home run, and hit that tree as hard as I could! I waited to hear the “BAM” or “CRACK” sound I had banked on, but I didn’t hear anything at all. Nothing louder than my headphones, at least. See, the stick I picked out ended up being a stick that was a little rotted….so as I smacked it up against the tree, it crumbled to the ground. The piece I gripped so tightly still in my hand.
The deer was no longer staring at me. No, it had now put its head down, and began to walk towards me.
I waved the white flag on standing my ground to run the path, turned around, and started walking out of the woods. After a few steps I turned around, expecting to see the dear stopped and staring at me. Nope. He was letting me have a bit of a lead, but he was following me.
“Great. I’m going to get attacked by a dear in the woods,” I thought, as I scanned for neighbors that might be outside at 9:30 in morning on a Friday when it’s freezing cold outside.
“I will be the one it happens to,” I continued to think…”I have this thing with critters!”
I walked a little further along the path and then looked back again…deer still in tow. When I reached the glorious sidewalk to the neighborhood, I assumed I was golden.
“No way that deer is going to walk out of the woods and expose himself in the neighborhood…” I thought….”and he’s definitely not going to take a stroll down the sidewalk to follow me home.”
I looked back at the wooded path, trying to find the deer camouflaged amongst all the leaves that had fallen and those still hanging on the trees, and spotted him still walking towards me…now about to emerge from the protection of the woods.
“No freaking way!”
At this point, I’m imagining this deer following me through the streets of the neighborhood and all the way home. I decided it was time to “lose” him. I picked my pace up to a jog and didn’t stop for a couple of blocks. The temptation to look back was just too much to take…so before I took the next turn to head out of the neighborhood, I stopped. Craning my neck to look back…noticing I had run past a few people out raking and mowing their leaves as I scanned the horizon…I focused in on where the path to the woods began at the back of the neighborhood.
Standing on the curb of the street, staring right back at me, was said deer. I did a double and triple take, and really started to anticipate the deer breaking into a run in my direction. The few people out doing yard work are, I’m quite sure, convinced that I’ve lost my mind. Music still blaring in my ears, I never thought to stop and explain what I was looking for, or turn it down to pay mind to whether or not I’d been talking to myself in private or out loud for the entire episode of the deer.
With people around as witnesses, I concluded it was now safe to turn the corner and run out of the neighborhood. Which I did.
Six miles later and back home again…no sign of the deer.
Funny thing was, even if I continued through the path I was planning on, I still would have had to detour around the walk bridge that was mysteriously blocked off and closed yesterday…which I discovered in taking the long way to get there. Consequently, my uncalculated meander through town and down the pier yielded some really cool pics I stopped to take of the lake.
As I felt the power of the North East wind that kicked up Lake Erie stinging my face with cold spray, I felt my ‘running smile’ begin to make an appearance (common for me when I’m out running…propbably another reason people think I’ve lost my mind…). Amidst the roar of the wind and waves on the pier, and the blaze of sunshine that lit my path as I neared my driveway again, my messed up running route turned into quite an intentional conversation.
God is so cool.
He knows the only way to stop me in my tracks is to put a critter there that won’t move.
If you only knew how scared I really was of that deer!!!!!
It made me laugh so hard I had to start sharing it with other people so I didn’t feel like a crazy person laughing about it to myself for the rest of the day. My group text got so many teary-eyed laughing emoticons that I decided to spread the laughter of it all to my Facebook friends.
Later that day, as I was out talking to my neighbor, I looked up to see staring eyes from across the street. You got it. The deer.
“No, way!” I said to my neighbor, “That’s the deer I saw this morning!!!”
(I would, again, insert a picture of the deer here…if my i phone 4 wasn’t such a dino and took so long to load the photo app!!!)
Suddenly feeling responsible that it had wandered all the way out of the neighborhood and across the busy road…with no farther to go but for a swim in Lake Erie…I now really started to wonder about this deer that so calmly continued to roam through town. My daughters are convinced it’s one of Santa’s reindeer. I believe it tracked my scent and found where I lived. (I really expected to look out my window and find it in my front yard staring at me through the window!!!!) Does it have rabies? Is it sick? Lost? Hurt? Confused?
I don’t know how that deer got there, or why it wants to be my best friend. In the Facebook comment feed, reposted from that side of the neighborhood’s Facebook page, was a photo of that deer!!!! Two photos of it, actually, and one of someone petting it!!!!!! Many people had seen it out in the neighborhood that day!!!!
You’re all welcome. I’ll be setting up a post to feed it carrots this holiday season. lol.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may life you up in due time.