It was midday, but the thick cumulus clouds made noon look more like dusk, with its low light and muted colors. Work was busy, and I just wanted to get away from the computer. So, when lunchtime arrived, instead of heading toward the refrigerator, I slipped on my boots and headed out the front door and into the woods.
I arrived at a deer blind that is set up along a tree line bordering a large crop field. Last year, this field was full of tobacco; this year, endless rows of soybeans grow, enticing deer to enjoy an easy, nutritious snack. The deer often traverse this area, and there are trail cameras set up to track their movements. Today, however, I was not tracking wildlife or taking photographs. I just needed some time away from my computer, away from the task lists, meetings, and deadlines that were spilling over.
I unzipped the blind, entered, and sat down on a small chair. As I was closing the zipper, the wind gusted, releasing dozens of dead pine needles that hit the top of the blind, making soft, popping sounds. I moved the chair closer to the edge of the blind and adjusted the windows so I could see outside.
Closing my eyes, I slowed my breathing and listened to the wind rustle and stir. A few minutes lapsed, and the light pitter patter of raindrops began sounding, creating slow drips on the fabric of the blind. Looking up through the opening in the blind, behind the trunk of an old twisted pine, I made out the hindquarters of a deer standing still on the closest edge of the field. The rain picked up and the light drips turned into loud thuds. I looked out again and saw two deer in the field, nibbling soybean pods off the plants. They didn’t seem to mind the rain.
The deer just stood there eating, ignoring the precipitation falling all around.
As the rain’s intensity increased, more deer gathered in the center of the open field. Water was now entering the blind through the windows as the deer fed in the field, completely oblivious to the hard rain. I sat in the blind, wiping the splashing water from my eyes, immersed in the moment, staring out into the field where about eight deer had gathered.
I studied the deer’s peculiar behavior, wondering why they stood out in the open and subjected themselves to…