Deer Me


Paddling in the August sun made my bare shoulders smell like burnt potato chips. Purposefully, I put my wrist up to my tongue to taste pure salt. Time to ditch the canoe and fulfill a promise I made to myself earlier in the day to go swimming with my dog. I haven’t been in a bathing suit in 10 years, convinced that no one wants to look at old lady parts –yet I was yearning for the childhood thrill of making three backwards somersaults in a row underwater and floating on my back, looking up at the sky.

My objective all along was to be brave, not be seen, and be quick.   My swimming hole would have to be secluded. After passing up two possible sites, I settled on one across from a lively beaver dam. I love beavers and hoped to get some brownie points by aggravating one bad enough to slap his tail at me. I shivered for a minute in waist deep water, steeling myself for the plunge. Hmmm….much colder than it looked. I kept saying, “Just do it….do it….GO!” Elvis was singing “It’s Now or Never” as I pushed off hard, leaving the earth and years behind, sinking up to my neck in orange tannin-colored water, common in Michigan’s upper peninsula.

Now my legs were working like eggbeaters in the water, treading it, as I called Remi out to me. She had been on the shore doing a pretty good impression of Scooby Doo’s “Rutt-Roh” look.  I blew bubbles at her, clapped and called her out to me. After a sufficient amount of begging, she figured, ah, what the heck, and took the plunge–steering towards me with her built-in tail rudder and pumping her back legs until we were nose to nose, hearts smiling.

All of a sudden, to my left, I heard a huge kersplash followed by a smaller kersplash. Surreal. There we were, out in the deep water, the two of us dog paddling with a doe and a fawn. The doe was in high gear, cutting 30 yards straight to the mainland from this island cove and her spotted baby was bawling after her. Remi and I had the “deer in the headlights” look as we shared this spectacle. Safe on the other side, they shook off and quickly disappeared into the woods, thinking nothing of it. All that was left on our side were the two sets of meandering hoof prints on the sandy beach and a miracle I will be thinking about for decades.

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