#5 Deer on Hallowed Ground February 17, 2019

The Backwoods of Greensboro

Photo by Dylan Mask

I was driving with my mother along the winding roads of the Guilford Courthouse Battleground , covered by a canopy of wet, bare trees. The mechanical, gentle   scraping of the windshield wipers distracted me from the dampened woods outside. I stopped the car every so often to get out and take a few pictures, but my mind seemed to match the mechanical flash of my camera’s shutter, quickly moving from one thing to the next.

I saw a picturesque creek flowing away from the road and into the fog. I pulled over and slowly traversed down the damp, leaf-laden hill to take some photos. When I got to the bottom, I saw a different perspective of the creek, a drainage pipe and a milky-gray pool of water, a far less picturesque visage than from the road. Likely runoff from the road or surrounding neighborhood, the milky pool represents a Wizard of OZ looking behind the curtain moment.

As I trudged up the moistened hill, I noticed that we were on the edge of the park. Behind me was a residential neighborhood, while in front of me was woods for as far as I could see, a tainted enclave of natural space in the middle of Greensboro. I find myself more and more frustrated while attempting to immerse myself in natural spaces, finding human intrusions into the natural landscape to be irritating, a cynical sentiment that I hope to overcome.

Photo by Dylan Mask

Deer on the Fringes

A herd of Whitetail Deer, Odocoileus virginianus, spotted in the Northwestern corner of the Military Park on Sunday February 17th. Photo by Dylan Mask

Sometimes, it astounds me how much a little and seemingly insignificant moment can change my perspective. I can recall countless times when seeing a blue heron in the pond, a hummingbird at the feeder or a peregrine falcon perched upon telephone lines lifted my outlook on what otherwise was a horrible day. I had such an experience while driving through the battlegrounds parkland; as I was slowly driving, I glimpsed a herd of deer out of the corner of my eye.

If it wasn’t for the unmistakable flash of white, the herd would have folded unnoticed into the rest of their brown and wet surroundings. I shouted with frightened excitability “DEER!” and slammed my foot on the brakes, nearly giving my mother, entrenched in her smartphone, a heart attack. I lifted the emergency break, grabbed my camera, and with a suppressed excitement I exited my car, inching across the asphalt as the deer lifted their heads from the underbrush. I giddily took a few photos while I still had the deers’ attention.

Seeing the deer enlivened me with an excitement that I hadn’t felt in quite some time. It made me think removed from myself about the people who lived on that land during the 18th century, about the lives that they lived, about how their relationship to deer, in that situation was different than mine. I was a photo-happy observer; the people living there were predators, and the deer were food.

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