But for some reason this time, I glanced up to the right as I came out onto the hill - and there were two roe deer, a stag and a hind, not that far away. Nessie didn't notice - she was too busy watching the ball in my hand, willing me to throw it. They saw me too; the stag raised its head and watched me calmly. Neither of them seemed disturbed, and I stood still and gazed.
If I'd had my camera or phone with me, as I usually do, I would have tried to take a picture. I would have been concentrating on raising it very slowly, adjusting the zoom, keeping as steady as I could. I would have been watching the deer, but on the viewing panel, not for real. Probably, despite all my efforts, I would have disturbed the deer and they would have taken off.
As it was, we stood and stared at each other for several minutes. The hind moved about, feeding; the stag seemed relaxed, but watchful. In the end, I was the one who decided it was time to go.
If I'd got a good picture, I would have been pleased. But actually I'm glad I didn't have my camera, because I saw far more without one - and more than that, there was a sense of just being three creatures in a landscape - a fine thread of shared awareness.
As I went on, I thought about why it is I have this compulsion to capture a fleeting image. I thought of Louis MacNeice's poem, Sunlight on the Garden:
The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold.
But I still keep doing just that - seeking to cage that minute. As you see.
|My favourite tree on the hill. The deer were just up to the right, outside the frame of this picture.|
|You can just see Nessie, manic ball chaser, with the reservoir in the distance.|