One morning last week, I was walking Team Sheltie down an urban street about a block from home. The sun was up but it was early and hardly anybody was around. The dogs were charging ahead, in tandem, heads down and on the scent of something. They didn’t see the deer. I didn’t see it either until the subtlest of movements caught my eye. A leaf caught on the wind, a squirrel? I glanced into the yard I was passing and there it was – three arm lengths away and partially hidden by a hedge. It was so still that for a second I thought it was a deer statue (a nearby homeowner has one). Then I saw its ear twitch. It was the subtlest movement, hardly noticeable, but it was enough to tell me I was closer than I’d ever been to a wild deer.
In the moment before I walked on, one thing stood out. Not its size, or its stillness or the flash of fear that flickered in its brown eyes (though later I’d think about all three). Instead what captivated me was the softest whip of chocolate fuzz that I saw on still-forming antlers. That single detail summed up everything I needed to know about the creature in front of me. It was a sweet, young deer, harmless yet vulnerable. The sight also brought an unexpected rush of emotion because it reminded me of the down of my children’s hair when they were infants.
Details, in life and in novels, speak volumes. And those antlers did.