by Beth Dolinar, Contributing Writer
Most days, you’ll find our collie, Waylon, sitting just inside the side-yard fence, motionless as he watches the deer. Still a puppy, he isn’t inclined to bark or fuss as the deer—as many as eight of them—edge ever closer as they search for food.
I, too, sit quietly and watch. The pandemic lockdown has placed me safely inside my house; as I write this, I’m on the family room sofa, staring out the glass doors to the side yard, watching the dog as he watches nature.
It’s a paradox of this strange time. Only when I was forced inside did I begin to really take notice of the world outside. Perhaps it’s because with nothing open and nowhere to go and nobody to visit, I have more time to notice the otherwise mundane things around me.
The inside world has caught my attention too: the dead moths that get stuck in the window tracks; the chewed leg of the end table where Waylon got to it—all the humdrum details I only noticed when I was forced to slow down.
And when I cast my glance outside, the details erupt before my eyes like hot kernels of popcorn. Fresh shoots are poking up in the bamboo row we planted last spring. Bamboo is known to be fast growing, but this has the effect of time-lapse photography.
Everything with buds is budding now, from large teardrop buds of the rhododendron to the tiny mint-green buds of whatever that tree is down in the side woods. Last night I sat on the swing down there and listened as two birds carried on a noisy spat across the acre. What had always been background noise is now in sharp focus. Was it a spat, or maybe a mating call?
We still can take walks, and each of my nightly miles shows me something new. Owls want you to hear but not see them; I hear one every evening but can never find it. Ditto the woodpeckers.
The Bradford pear trees add a snowy look to the landscape; it’s a good thing they’re pretty because they smell pretty bad. And make me sneeze.
And my evening walk always brings me close to the deer; they don’t run when they see people. We’ve come to think of that herd as our own, but they live all over the neighborhood, grazing wherever the grazing is best.
As least two of the deer are pregnant. Last year at this time, we watched from afar as a doe gave birth in our side woods. First one tiny head popped up from the tall weeds, and then another. Soon, the doe struggled to her feet and walked off, followed by the larger of the two fawns. We don’t think the second, smaller one made it.
We will have a few more fawns here pretty soon. The expectant mothers sure are busy, eating through everything green out there in the woods. Maybe that’s what Waylon has been watching—part of the big, noisy world unfolding out there just beyond the fence.
Of course it’s always been there, erupting all around us. But now, with not much else to do, we can see it.
About the author: Beth Dolinar is a writer, Emmy-award winning producer, and public speaker. She writes a popular column for the Washington “Observer-Reporter.” She is a contributing producer of documentary length programming for WQED-TV on a wide range of topics. Beth has a son and a daughter. She is an avid yoga devotee, cyclist and reader. Beth says she types like lightning but reads slowly — because she likes a really good sentence.