Most everyone, I suspect, is familiar with the idea of cows lying around a pasture, chewing their cud. (If you are from the Midwest, you also probably are familiar with the similar concept of people cooking ears of sweet corn atop the tractor motor and then chewing the corn, cud-like.) Anyway, after at least a week of absence, my buck, who gets noticeably grayer and longer of fur as winter approaches, returned today to spend most of the day flattening a patch of my back-yard grass while chewing cud to beat the band. (I can't chew my nicotine gum that steadily, although I try.) But once again, despite it being the tail end of the season of rut, I was able to calmly walk outside with my load of garbage bags, stroll within a few feet of an animal that rather seriously outweighed me, and that had antlers like sabers and hooves of steel, and my passage never caused him to so much as to show the slightest agitation. The deer just looked over its shoulder at me as I dragged along my huge garbage bags, and glanced away again, munching cud from one of his uncaring stomachs.
The urban deer thing in Helena has come down to this: Not only do deer look both ways before crossing a street, (and probably vote in municiple elections, for all I know) they hardly even bother to look up as a grown man passes by them a few feet away banging along garbage bags. This inversion of the natural order of things is not likely to turn me into a Republican (Teddy Roosevelt being long dead), but it does make me wonder ... what do you have to do to scare a deer these days, put on a George W. mask?
Anyway, here is my second come-down of the day. I went to the local library to return a book, and grabbed another one I had noticed called "The First Word," a popular science book about linguistics and the recently resumed search for the origin of language itself. I started reading it, and that old deja vu started all over again. Sure enough, when I checked out my bookshelf most likely to hold such a book, there it was, purchased about three years ago. Frankly, I was enjoying reading the book again. But tomorrow I will return the borrowed copy to the library. I may well read my original copy again, however. And I'm sure that to any deer peering into my window, I will look like just another ungulate, re-chewing some cud.