The Velvet Buck

Fernando in early morning light
Fernando’s proud stance
My friend Fernando

From all kinds of flowers, 

Seek teachings everywhere,

Like a deer finds

A quiet place to graze,

Seek Seclusion to digest

All you have gathered. . .

Namkhai Norbu


On the South Bank, among the soft ferns and sticky wild grape, Fernando (our favorite black-tailed buck) slept unnoticed.  That russet coat, and those velvety, olive-green antlers, made him meld into the scenery like another branched log in the forest.  So when the branches shifted and the log stood, well, you can imagine my surprise.  I was relieved to see it was Fernando, and not the bear.

That morning, the air was crisp, a pleasant break from the summer heat and humidity.  Hints of fall could be seen in the fallen leaves of alders and cottonwoods while red and yellow flushed the maple leaves.  The air smelled sweetly green, and woodsy an earthiness I savored.  Fernando, breathed deeply.  Puffs of steam trailed like party streamers from his nostrils.  I wondered if he enjoyed the smells as much as I did?  I’d like to think so.  Fernando waited patiently as I poured the bucket of cracked corn on the feeding ground between the ferns and wild grape.  I then called to him, and he wagged his tail.  The tail wag was his acceptance that the coast was clear and wasted no time coming down from South Bank.  Unlike this clumsy human, he makes it look so easy.  I stood back watching him eat, listening to the corn grind between his teeth.  I couldn’t help smile.  It was a beautiful morning. 


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