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I spent a lovely morning recently exploring some of the deer paths behind our home, stopping to take photos along the way. It’s steeper than it looks here, but the deer know the best way to travel this terrain. And the lovely walking stick my husband made me with it’s sailor stitching and nubby knobs helped.

I love these oak trees, the curving branches with their rough bark and soft grassy moss, the dripping branches with their lacy ribbons. The way the sun peeks through . . .

The backlit branches spiking the sky. The tiny twigs curling like calligraphy against the deep blue.

The deer paths led me through sun-dappled glades . . .

. . . and pass the graveyards of dying and fallen giants, their bare bones scattered and broken along the way. Enriching the soil and nurturing new growth.

As I headed home again I passed the gopher ghetto that edges our property, a space my husband keeps clear of growth as a firebreak. These greedy, prolific creatures gobbled up the roots of several of our favorite rose bushes this year. But the bevy of quail that live here love this cleared space to scratch and feed. And they use the holes as bathtubs, wriggling their fat little bodies deep down into the tiny tubs and splashing the loosened dirt over their shoulders with their wings.

Home at last, I end this journey where I began, with this gorgeous red plum tree the marks one corner of our property.

And a postscript pleasure just for you: this beautiful buck who took a nap in our front yard not long ago. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by so much beauty and wildlife.