Clack, click, clack! I knew that sound, deep in my bones, even if I couldn't quite believe it at first. Clack, clack! Feet quickened on pavement, reaching the edge of the towering hedge to peer through the iron rods of the gate. And there, two bucks across the field, tangled up in a joust for power. Awe, and then my instincts took over and I knelt to change lenses on my camera. When I looked up again, the pair were grazing side by side, best of friends, and I wondered if I had imagined the whole thing. I moved in tentatively, footsteps soft in the leaf-covered grass. In this neighbourhood they feel safe; letting me approach close if I keep calm, move smoothly. These two males had both been congenial before, when I found them individually. But two bucks in rut was a recipe for an antler to the gut, or worse. I kept a big oak between us as I peered through the telephoto lens, my boots buried in the leaves and acorns blanketing the grass. Day was easing into twilight, the grey sky and last remaining leaves providing a perpetual shadow on the park.
Soon enough one two-spike eyed the other, and with a low head pushed his rack against the waiting tines of the other. A slow, lazy sort of dance took place, each testing their skills without pushing it too far. It seemed like practice, either easing into the mating season or prepping for bigger bucks who might come looking for the large group of does in the adjacent field. One buck had a slight edge on the other, antlers just a bit thicker on a head with just a bit more weight - but neither was ready to make any claims to "king of the forest". I barely breathed and watched their tangled tango.
You may have noticed posting has changed around here, a little. I've been doing this for quite a while (2006!) but more and more I've felt my posts churned out more for quantity than quality. I'm trying to change that, focus a bit more on my writing for what I hope is a better narrative. It used to be all I ever wanted to do was write, before I delved into photography and other hobbies. And I'd like to bring that writing back more. Somedays I feel I could just abandon the whole thing, but for now I'm keeping this little corner of my world. I seem to be filled with a lot of discontent these days, dissatisfied with the life that's unfolding. But when I'm walking through the sodden forest trails, out in the crisp wind at the shore, or stalking deer through a field - I'm never happier. So I hope to share that with you more here in as realistic a way as I can, do my best to bring you out into the wilds with me, and hope you will love it as I do. I'm sure things will keep evolving, but for now this is what I can do. If you have thoughts on what you'd like to see here, shoot me a note at fogandswell [at] gmail [dot] com.