He--or she--and I'll never know which--lived almost long enough to see tonight's silk sloughing of the sky, how its rinsed-out peach color fades as it falls below the tree line on the west.
As I started out in the car this morning, I saw the body of an infant white-tail deer--the smallest I've ever seen that close--at the side of the road, clipped, I assumed, by a car as the babe attempted to follow its mother across County Road 25A No blood, no guts, just a precious small brown and white creature, only its face on the pavement's edge.
The shoulder of the road is steep right there, no place to pull over. No cars in my rear view mirror so I pulled into my nearest neighbor's driveway. Off she went, my friend, Khrys Kontarze, to drag that baby away from the road, from those who would hit it deliberately, just as they do turtles and snakes, just to be hitting it. Yes, that happens.
Not long ago a buck was left lying half in the road, his antlers removed, two bloody stumps where they had been sawn off.
This morning's precious deer, brown and white, slender-legged and just a baby, really; he undoubtedly saw the yellow partridge peas that dot these woods, must have seen those red and yellow leaves drifting down and surely caught the scent in the air that presages what Floridians would like to call autumn.
The deer may have noticed the red seeds in the browning magnolia pods, the pointed yellowing stars of the sweetgum. If he were here now, he'd hear the owls calling, catch sight of an orange-red flash that's a cardinal launching off the pear tree. He could see now that the sky in the west is all burning coals behind the green lace of water oaks and blackgums.
This morning he may even have seen the vehicle that hit him. I hope it was quick.