Tuesday, August 3, 2010

An apple feast

It's apple time in the Northern Rockies, and at least one deer in Helena is a happy, if perhaps a bit sated, ruminant.

The doe was relaxing in my back yard when I got up, no doubt enjoying the 60-degree morning temperature. She sat in the grass for about another hour. I'd glance out my kitchen window once in a while, and usually there was no movement beyond a twitch of ears. Sometimes she'd twist her long neck around to groom her flank, or lift a hind leg to scratch her cheek.

Then she arose in that awkward way of deer - first rocking to her front knees, then straightening her back legs, then lurching to stand all the way. It soon was apparent what she had in mind.

I have an ancient apple tree. It produces smallish fruit, yellow in color, sweet but somewhat mushy. By early August, apples have begun ripening and falling to the ground. The mule deer walked directly to the nearest ground fall, sniffed the apple, and downed it with obvious relish.

Before she quit eating, she had gulped no fewer than 17 apples.

Then she walked back to her original position, dropped to her front knees, collapsed her hind legs, and settled down into the grass. She had some digestion to do.

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