Ever since I can remember I have been thrilled and excited by encounters with wild animals. The connection that I feel at these times is impossible
to put into words but at the very least brings out a sense of completeness
and oneness. Many years of meditation have increased the frequency
and closeness of these encounters - stillness works!
My Nature of Seeing workshops inevitably foster deeper connections with nature and wild places - it is the greatest privilege when a wild creature places some trust in us. Nature will supply us with the answers to our deepest questions if we are willing to look in the right places.
Scroll down below the images for a deer story...
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'The world is full of magic things,
patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper'
A first encounter with one of 4 fox cubs born within a short distance from the house. I began sitting out at the same time every evening. Young foxes are more curious than scared, but moving so much as a finger-tip would send them running.
Early days again with our local fox cubs from 2016 - getting confident about my presence.
The 3 male cubs have dispersed leaving the female to take up her territory where she was born. And over time with the enticement of a few peanuts she becomes very used to me being there...
Sometimes the fox and badger turn up at the same time. It's not always possible to predict which one will dominate. I think it depends what mood they are in!
A badger that I have known for more than 3 years. She is very bright and quickly solves new problems, such as where have I put the peanuts.
In amongst countless meetings with wild animals, I'd like to tell the story of just one. I regularly visit the forest to practice my awareness and on this occasion had agreed to meet my friend Cathy at dawn on a Sunday morning. The weather was cold, windy and very wet,
and on arriving at the forest, we very nearly decided against it. This is England's finest yew forest though and we had driven some distance, so it was thus that we donned the waterproofs and connected with the elements.
We had been out a good couple of hours when we heard the sound of a Jay's alarm call some distance away. Guessing that it wasn't
us that caused the disturbance we began wandering in it's direction to investigate. In a while we glimpsed a small group of deer (several females and a male - it was not long after the rutting season when these animals would have mated) huddled in the dim light underneath some trees. They were a long way off but saw us and ran. At least all of them ran except the buck, which we thought odd. Peering into the gloomy distance we realised that he appeared to be stuck in some way - he was trying to flee but it seemed like he was tethered.
What to do..? We were too far away to clearly see what was wrong and the last thing we wanted was to scare him any more.
We discussed going back to the cars where we had left our phones, but who to call, early on a Sunday morning? And how long
had the deer been stuck there? There didn't seem any other option but to try to approach closer to discover the problem.
Removing my rustly waterproof, I began to quietly edge closer, using all my nature awareness training. In spite of the this the buck was terrified and thrashed around in his attempts to escape. As I got closer, it was clear that he was indeed tied to a tree with what appeared to be a length of rope which had become entangled with one of his antlers. Try as he might to free himself he was only making things worse by increasing the knot. By now I was close enough to see the problem but hesitated because the deer was throwing himself in circles. I saw that the 'rope' was actually a long (30 feet or so) of metre-wide chicken wire, half of which had been twisted into a rope
about 2 inches thick. To create that, he had been there a long time then.
I didn't know what to do and was contemplating when he suddenly hurled himself in a full somersault and landed heavily on his side.
Without thinking I moved quickly in and held onto him as he lay there, taking hold of his antler. Those of you that have seen a scared horse will have some sense of what his eyes were like.., pure terror. I sat for a moment to take a few deep breaths and in that moment
a healer friend came to mind and I found myself laying my hand on the buck's belly and sending stillness. Everything changed in an instant. His breathing calmed right down and his eyes returned to normal. I also calmed down and began to think clearer.
The way the deer was laying was not good, as the rope of wire was stretched from his antler, across his belly and underneath his back legs and it was completely taught to the tree, forcing his neck backwards. He was laying in a sea of wet churned up mud, another sign
of how long he had been stuck. This made the first task obvious - relieve the tension on the wire rope. To do this, the only way was to
try and move the deer closer to the tree. We were on a steep slope and he was coated in slimy mud, and he was a fully grown Fallow
deer stag. I put my hands around his chest but try as I might could not move him as much as a millimeter - he was just too heavy
and too slippery. I realised then that his other antler, buried in the mud, was caught in the roots of the tree. Digging down with my
hands, after some time I managed to free the antler and in this way could haul him closer to the tree. With all my effort I could still
only move him an inch or two but it was enough to slacken the tension on the wire and relieve the pressure on his neck.
Taking a few more deep breaths, I could now assess the thing again.
I found myself running through the possibilities in my mind. Could I send Cathy back to the car? The cars were 45 minutes away...
What tools did I have in the car? Couldn't remember... Was there any other way? The thick rope of wire was wound around his
antler several times and was solid and sharp having been twisted so tightly. It looked impossible to remove it, especially because
I had only flint stones and my hands, which were already cold and sore from my efforts so far. In addition, I've never been good
at unravelling knots - not even as a child! Back to stillness...
I looked back at the wire, the knots and the antler and what happened next is difficult to describe..,
I was surprised that I 'saw' or rather 'felt' the sequence of what to do to untangle the wire. I really was astonished but started to work
on the tangle almost mechanically now, because I was strangely confident. In what I would guess to be about an hour I had the wire
free and I stood up and retreated a pace or two from the deer. He didn't move, he was laying as peaceful as a stone. I, and my by this time very emotional friend, moved away further and sent messages of 'it's all ok' to the buck. It took some minutes but slowly his eyes opened and seemingly realising where he was he shakily began to stand. As soon as all four hooves were on the ground, he was bounding away into the forest.
I realised I was soaked through, cold and covered up to my waist in mud. We left the forest, found a warm cafe and slowly sipped tea.
I explore in nature because it so accurately reflects our state of mind. Weeks later it came back to me in a dream. We struggle through problems, sometimes for a long time.., hours, months or even years, yet the solutions reside in that space of surrender or simply meeting the moment without judgement.
My ever grateful thanks to Cathy, the forest and the deer...