Updated May 24, 2018.
Dodger rested atop his throne, puffed against the dawn’s biting chill and squinting at the rays of the rising sun. Mist rose from the ground, fogging everything with fuzzy pink hues.
It was Sunday, a blessed day of rest after a long night of cleaning out pesky mice, wrangling raccoons and dodging carousing coyotes.
Though the nocturnal creatures were tucking in for a long day’s sleep, Dodger’s work night had yet to end. There were those beasts roaming the fringes of day, who must pay him court.
Maintaining a majestic repose, his eyes slid toward the next subject in line, making the approach toward him down the long, narrow “hall” of the grassy side-yard.
She was a sleek, long-legged beauty with doe eyes.
She took her time, sampling the colorful feast attractively laid out, hedgerow style, along the north side of the hall (property line). A connoisseur of fine food, she savored every carefully chosen Oregon Grape, maple leaf and fiddlehead, browsing her way as she advanced.
Dodger enjoyed her greatly, admiring her graceful demeanor. She often visited him and he looked forward to seeing her. It’s the reason he delayed retiring from his royal duties at daybreak . . . to see her, the loveliest one in his kingdom.
Her naivete struck him. Before him lay a magnificent gourmet dish lavishly decorated with delicate white blossoms, and she, having arrived at the head table behind which he sat, plucked a succulent Rhododendron leaf from it.
With impeccable manners she sampled the delicacy he’d provided especially for her. He delighted in her dreamy joy.
As he looked on he watched her suddenly quicken to awareness.
Every day it was the same. She’d lose herself in timeless deliciousness, eluding all reality and time, and nearly passing him by as he moved not a long black hair while sitting in the shrubby shadows on his obscure stump of a throne.
She froze. Then, ever so slowly turning, her eyes widened with fear and met his.
Still as a mirrored pond, his breath held; he waited with anticipation as recognition overtook her. It was perhaps the most magical moment of his day, when she nervously nodded before coming forward to bestow her affection upon each of his cheeks.
His was mesmerized.
She was enchanting.
Though he did not love her, she was of as noble a species as his and he held a deep regard for her regal bearing.
She floated away taking the magic with her, his eyes never leaving her until she evaporated.
With a sigh, he turned back to find a young fawn, looking very much like her mother drifting toward him with the same ethereal aura.
Stilling himself, moving not a whisker, nor twitching tail or ear, he let her sniff him all over.
Not liking his musty, elderly scent, she leaped back and skittered off in her mother’s wake.
Curmudgeon that he was, Dodger harrumphed as he took his leave to retire; remembering one day not so long ago when the doe, once a fawn herself, had as clumsily paid him court . . . yet had emerged from the awkwardness of youth into exquisiteness.
Knowingly, he smiled at the vision and of the wonderful thing to come . . . blossoming youth.
The black cat story is a true-tall tale.
Dodger really did sit upon a stump on a misty dawn one Sunday morning.
I watched from my bedroom window as the doe browsed along the hedgerow until she startled at Dodger’s frozen presence. He moved not a whisker, nor switched his tail as she sniffed every inch of him, before leaping back and browsing on.
The sweet fawn following in her mothers wake, imitated her, sniffing Dodger all over, and Dodger still hadn't moved.
When the deer disappeared, Dodger saw me at the window, jumped off his stump and ran to the back door. I let him into the house, indulged him with a morning pet and supplemented his “wild” diet with some scrambled eggs, our usual morning routine.