By Simon Armitage
From Dove Cottage, I sloped out through the side gate
and climbed the corpse road past the coffin stone,
then curved through a mixed copse to a scree path
scored by rainwater into the hill's back.
I was hauled upward by a borrowed dog
on a makeshift leash, a yellow Labrador,
busy for every birdcall and blown leaf.
Over a hand-stacked wall, in the next fold,
under the driftwood bones of an old elm,
a red deer had dropped down from the high fell
with morning beaconed in its flaming horns.
With dawn-light cradled in its branching crown.
I stood in some blind spot of its dark eye,
and deer and dog were still and unaware
and stayed that way, divided by the wall,
wild stag and hunting hound in separate worlds,
before the deer pushed on through tinder thickets,
igniting the next wold. And the dog yawned.
Then I hacked up the ghyll to higher ground,
toward the hill's bare head, counting the dead
and the hikers striding along the ridge,
thinking of taking a drink from the tarn,
thinking of adding a new stone to the cairn.
I took my kids out to Lebanese Taverna with me and miriya_b, who has gotten a job downtown and won't be able to meet me in Rockville at lunchtime any more. We had lots of fantastic hummus and shawarma and walked around a bit in the stores nearby afterward -- there's a new children's store in the former Tower Records building that has housed the fantastic Halloween costume store the past two years, woe! We stopped in Bagel City to get bagels for breakfast, then came home and I sent the kids to the pool to work off lunch.
There was another adult deer with them -- we have seen this trio in the woods approaching our street as well.
I don't think it's a good thing that they're so fearless of people, though.
This heron is not only unafraid of the other geese in the lake, it is happy to peck them out of the way when it sees a fish it wants.
I never get tired of seeing turtles in neighborhood streams.
Or snakes, though this one lives at the Locust Grove Nature Center.
Potomac Overlook Park is not suffering from the honeybee crisis; their hive is in excellent health.
And a cat who has found a comforter to lie on (that was supposed to be put away by its owner!).
We put on Amadeus in the evening -- the director's cut, which is three hours long -- and though the kids were doing other things when we started, they both ended up coming in and watching, and we stopped it when it was time for them to go to bed so we can all watch the rest when they're awake tomorrow. We turned on the Olympics just as the balance beam competition was starting, so I got to see Shawn Johnson in the last women's gymnastics event of the Games.