We are really lucky to have a very active homeschool community in our city. There are several groups, one of which I am involved with through a play group and nature group. One of the dedicated mamas organises two walks a month on either side of the city, so far we haven’t ventured too far from home but the ones near us have been well worth the effort.
This week we ventured to a completely new (to us) trail, tantalised by the possibility of tame deer that will eat from our hands. Armed with a bag of carrots and apples we ventured forth into the wilderness.
The children wasted no time in making themselves at home in their true home, nature. They were drawn to the rocks and hills, the bushes and trees, making their entertainment and never even thinking the words ‘I’m bored’. Despite a cold wind they were fearless and free.
I love watching Huwyl exploring his environment, he has always been thoroughly happy and at home in nature, exploring, playing, imagining. It all blends seamlessly and I love watching him challenge himself. However, it is not so fun to watch Neirin doing exactly the same thing. My youngest child has no fear at all, I, however, have an overabundance. Luckily Dad was on this walk to help herd Neirin who has a rather ‘off piste’ approach to trails.
Moving along we were teased by signs of wildlife but not the creatures themselves. We knew, though, that we were getting close as trails intersected showing evidence of what we were seeking.
We did catch a tantalising glimpse of some deer but they could not be convinced to come near, I worried that we might be going home disappointed as the sharp wind was too strong to stay out in for too long with a not-quite-two-years boy. However, it was just this boy and, shall we say, his vocal determination that startled some deer who then came our way. We watched as they fed on the treats we left them, standing as quietly and as still as a group of excited children can manage. Much to Huwyl’s dismay they didn’t actually feed from our hands but they did enjoy his delicious apples, cheering him somewhat to know that his treat was the favoured one.
Watching the mother and fawn pair I was struck by their affinity and connection. The mother was constantly alert to danger, guarded and watchful as her fawn enjoyed the treats thrown to the ground. Equally the fawn was sensitive to its mother’s reactions, aware of her better senses and judgement but equally curious and wanting to explore. Did she recognise in us human mothers the same feelings? Are we, like a deer, flighty and fearful, oversensitive to the possible dangers and pitfalls of life?
They seem so vulnerable these creatures, despite their size and speed, you sense from them their fragility and brevity of years. Yet as they startled and fled I was caught. My mind raced with them for just a second, speeding ahead with only this moment existing. A beating heart, the sharpness of the air, bunching muscles and blood moving. I could only imagine what it must feel like to live within a second in time, nothing before or after. To dive unconstrained through the forest, feeling nothing but the exhilaration of living and my own hot breath rushing over my skin. To be free with the snow on my feet.