… dear to us …will be near to us once more. Well, maybe … here’s why.
I thought long and hard about what to call this post. Even though the reference to the well-known Christmas song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” appealed to me, I also toyed with the title “Run Rudolph Run” … except Rudy was not a doe.
So let me condense this strange encounter of the nice kind as best I can.
I finally visited Sterling State Park in 2022, a venue I have never written about, but longed to visit. But, every time I planned to take that 60-mile round-trip adventure, something always came up – construction, weather, massive algae bloom, or a holiday weekend when this state park would be swamped with campers and beach-goers, … so I put it off.
I had not visited Sterling State Park since I was a preteen, then unbelievably I went three times in three weeks. The first two trips, October 1st when I tried out the six-mile long hiking trail, then October 22nd, when I hiked the six-mile long trail again, then strolled along the one-mile long beachfront – those treks will be fodder for other posts.
I’ve mentioned in the past that after my longer weekend treks, that evening I usually take a few minutes to write out a synopsis of my walk to pair up that narrative with the photos whenever I sort them out. I wanted the name of that very long trail for my post, so I Googled around to find it. Not only did I learn the name was the Sterling Marsh Trail, but I also learned there was an asphalt path along a steep rocky cliff over Lake Erie with rocks on either side, plus a cement walkway with a railing that got you even closer to the shoreline. Since it was another beautiful day, I returned to check those walkways out.
Once there I realized I had overlooked the entryway to the walkway before since I saw a sign with directions for “dumping” so assumed it was for campers only.
Along the narrow path ….
The trail guide website had a few photos but I really had no idea where the walkway would eventually dead-end. As I walked toward the narrow path of the walkway, a deer loped past me. I chastised myself for woolgathering while “gazing out to sea” as I could have gotten a shot of that doe. But she was off in a flash, trotting down the narrow pathway away from me, the looming human.
I figured my deer friend would reach the end of the pathway and head off into a field, or one of many woodsy areas, but I was dead wrong. The doe disappeared, then reappeared moments later, facing toward me, about 25 to 30 feet away. I assumed, that she assumed, she would return the same way she got there.
But there was one problem ….
I was in her way.
And, if she chose to give me wide berth to pass me on this asphalt path, she likely would tumble down the cliff onto the big boulders and into the raging waters of Lake Erie which splashed up onto said boulders.
I quickly realized the situation and panicked just a little myself, as that five-foot pathway was wide enough for two humans, but a human and a skittish deer … um, maybe not.
She stood there, her ears perked up, eyes transfixed on me and I clearly saw the dilemma for both of us. On my left-hand side was a chain-link fence. I thought maybe I could flatten myself against the fence and grip the links to give her ample room to pass me. Except I was holding onto the camera and she was getting nervous, pacing repeatedly, backward, then forward.
Then she got the bright idea to go down the cliff, climbing onto those big boulders. I shouted “no, you can’t do that! You’ll break a leg, or your neck – please, no – I’m not going to hurt you!”
She listened, likely terrified by my shrill cry, then picked her way through the rocks, climbed back up onto the pathway and headed the other way. Whew!
After approaching me and double-backing repeatedly, she finally went into that corner and I reached the area she was hiding. No wonder she was frantic. There was a gate, with no access to the woods for it. She truly was panicked by my presence and kept charging toward the gate, thrashing her body against the metal, her tail flicking, tongue lolling – clearly agitated!
If only she knew I was no threat – what to do? I crept into an adjacent corner and gave her enough room to flee her predicament. She paused a few moments, realized she had room to make a run for it and off she went, flashing that long, white furry tail that enables us to know the White-tailed Deer breed.
But as she ran down the pathway, back to freedom, away from this hulking human who was truly humbled by her beauty and vulnerability, she turned around to look at me one more time. Was she saying “thank you – I’m sorry I thought you might harm me and I was wrong about that.”
Happily she finally trotted away, flashing her tail and kicking up her heels, leaving me better for that experience, though there were a few anxious moments on that narrow and rocky pathway with no fence – yikes!
I had a lot of photos and could have simply written a few lines for each photo to explain, but, like the Osprey post last week, I decided to tell the tale, then leave the photos for last. I think the slideshow shows the sequence of events best. Enjoy!