Running on Deer Time

Yesterday we spent part of the day at the beautiful – and quite deserted – Potomac Overlook Regional Park in Arlington, Virginia. We sat for a while in the Indian Garden, quiet, just taking it all in – when in my peripheral vision I saw a golden creature that I first thought was a large dog. I turned, and it was a deer, not a fawn, but quite small. He seemed to tip-toe around us, eating grass and flowers. He stayed with us for about ten minutes – coming close, drifting off, coming close again – though it seemed longer.

I gave up my wristwatch recently, and replaced it with a pocket watch on a chain around my neck.  It is more trouble to look at it, which makes me look at it less, which is what I wanted. Now that it’s nearly summer, life will be less structured and there will be long stretches of time when I won’t need it at all.

I thought yesterday of Bob Hicok’s poem “Switching to deer time,” from his award-winning book This Clumsy Living. Here’s an excerpt:

How I decide

to get out of bed these days is deer.

If I look out my window and see them

I know it’s time to feed my feet

to the mouths of my jeans

and when I told my wife the deer

are my new clock she said they won’t fit

on the mantle.

…And deer are the best clocks because time

is twitchy, is a nervous thing

running away from us into woods…


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