This was our territory once. Every lifetime our places and times of day diminish, but as long as food sources remain plentiful we will stay here and adapt — learning to cross carefully the hard grey roadways and the daylight hours, the noise and movement, the human-frequented spaces.
We still have night, which rarely falls fully into darkness any more: even the hills hold on to a faint orange-whiteness of city-glow. We have dusk, when we can move through forests and fields unseen by the walkers and talkers whose torches obscure more forest than they illuminate. We own the long summer dawns, best times in the year, when humans go to ground inside their rectangular hideouts, and even roadways lie quiet.
Across an ever-changing landscape of sound/scent/sight, under the roll of seasons, we learn and relearn our world. The heights and widths of hedgerow, the freshest grazing-grounds, the thickest cover and the safest routes between. We know when to disappear, where best to spend the slowness of the day in hiding from rushing sound and movement.
Dissolving into dappled patches of light and shade, we turn invisible, inaudible, invulnerable to danger. We are undergrowth ourselves, or bracken, stone and shadow. While autumn rules, my very antlers conform to the branching trees above me until I and all of mine become as forest as the distant generations before us and after.
©2019 by Fiona Jones
Fiona Jones lives near Dunfermline, Scotland — a well-populated area where you would not expect wild deer to live, but occasionally you glimpse them from afar.