For the first time in about a month, as I happened to pass by my front door, I noticed out of the corner of my eye the passage of a deer in my street.
I stepped outside my door - at 50 degrees, it warm for Helena at 8 p.m. on a Saint Patrick's Day evening - and saw not one but three mule deer. Each was a youngster - yearlings in a couple of months - and each of them appeared really tentative as they left the blacktop of Warren Avenue and paused on the grassy boulevard of 11th Avenue to my south - a busy street on which vehicles zoomed by, headlights sweeping, engines roaring, blasting the evening quiet.
I watched the deer, silhouetted by the passing headlights, obviously scared, ears turning this way and that, deciding that crossing 11th Avenue was a dumb thing to try. One by one, they moved back onto my street, crossed it, and disappeared into the darkness between houses on the other side of the road. They were learning the ways of urban deer.
Those young animals seemed lost, afraid - motherless - but elegant nonetheless. Maybe sometime, later this year, one or two of them will make that leap of faith into my back yard.