Sunday, June 7, 2009

Wonders in the grass

Ruby, my yellow Lab, and I toured the pastures and hay fields looking for the rascally Carduus nutans, or musk thistle, before sundown. Ruby loped alongside or behind me as I drove the Arctic Cat through handlebar-deep grass. I'd stop every so often to stand on the foot rests and search for the purple buds and stalks of those spiny, alien plants early-19th-century European immigrants couldn't leave home without.

There's a small basin almost encircled by trees near where my great-great grandparents built their first cabin in 1857. It holds a seep, so the grass is even more lush there compared to the surrounding hay fields. I was driving through the basin when I at first thought a woman had yelled behind me. I looked behind to my left to see a newborn whitetail fawn with its legs tucked up underneath it laying in the grass. The knobby rear tires must have brushed against the fawn's rear. It got up, helped out by a nudge from Ruby's sniffer, and wobbled toward dense brush. At the same time, a doe bounded the other way out of tall grass and trees 50 yards farther down the basin's rim.

Anyhow, no larger than that white-specked, still-damp fawn was, it produced a bleat loud enough to overpower the Arctic Cat's racket. I even yelled, "What?" and had started drawing my revolver before I saw its white spots.

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