The movie Gone with the Wind has an intermission. It’s almost inconceivable nowadays that a movie released by a major studio would need an intermission. While they’ve ebbed and flowed a little, most films clock in at between an hour forty minutes and two hours. Alfred Hitchcock said the length of a movie should be determined by the endurance of the human bladder, which he had pegged at 1 hour 59 minutes for The Birds in 1963. But GWTW ran four hours, necessitating a bathroom break — all this being an overture (which GWTW also had) for the fact that I’ve been on an extended one myself (intermission, that is, and not a bathroom break). Sometimes you have to drop the narrative and attend to other business.
I’ve been settling into an intensive herbalism course and spending a lot of time ignoring the fact that Christmas is around the corner, and all that time adds up. But I have, in this hiatus, walked a little: my regular walk along North County Road 25E, the dairy road, since it leads, once you take the right on 54E, to the Morning Fresh Dairy Farms and Noosa Yoghurt. The walk has two advantages. It’s nearby, and it totals three miles out and back — an ideal length if time is short. It’s also pleasantly bucolic, with cornfields on one side, hay fields on the other, skunks in the evening, turtle doves in the morn, and kestrels watching from the wires. If you’re lucky, and times are hard, you may see one of the neighbors out in the yard with a fistful of soil saying, “As God is my witness, I’ll never go hungry again!” (“Morning, Mrs. B! You look like you’ve lost weight. Good for you!”)
Red Cedar, as I’ve said before, is a haven for female deer. This time of year it’s the younger does, looking a little lost. And then family groups, a dominant female with a supporting cast of relations; then pregnant mother lying in, uncomfortable, seeking shade; and then mother and fawns. It has its cycle. With the exception of the rut in full swing, you have to go lower and north for the stags. They tend to hang around the end of the county road, near the dairy and the Bellvue Emporium. And it was there that I found them in the first week of December, on both sides of the road, resting, free from the fixation of the weeks before, but looking a little weathered, with chips out of their antlers, the tips shorn or broken.
I took a rest myself, leaning against a distribution pole. A handful of wild turkeys appeared, moving with a kind of caffeinated energy along the side of the road, leaving footprints like a succession of peace symbols in the thin snow. Can’t stay. Peace. Out. They ducked into one of the gardens where showerhead sunflower discs kept company with scarecrows, unemployed, offstage, hoisted mute as ventriloquist dummies. It grew a little colder. The sun was going down in what cinematographers call Magic Hour. A slanting wintering sun picked out cottonwoods in high relief. Above a hay field, some distance from the irrigation ditch that winds south from the Poudre, a young female Belted Kingfisher took it all in: the strutting, restless turkeys, the roosters and the stone-tiled silos, the tired bucks.
She was impatient, Gone in a Flash: “Frankly, deer,” she said, “I don’t give a damn.” Roll credits.