Double Day on the Prairie





The Parnell Prairie Preserve used to be the town dump, but it’s been rehabilitated, and now I walk on it as often as I can in the warm seasons. Its mowed paths wind through prairie grass and stands of birch and hills crowded with pines. One day my son Parker and I were walking there when we saw two riders on horseback. They stayed on the far side of the preserve, as if to give us our own space. I turned from them to see two half-grown deer bounding toward us around a bend. They moved like horses on a merry-go-round, up and down in perfect unison. I gasped at their nearness, and the sound made them notice us. Their heads jerked to direct their gazes toward us; the moist dark eyes held no expression, though I always seem to look for one; they bounded away off the path in a noisy haste. They had vanished in the grass before I could utter a sentence.
A face in the clouds

“I barely saw them,” Parker said. “I was looking at the horses.”

Meanwhile, in the peripheral vision of my left eye, the two horses rolled by, making no sound, though their riders spoke to each other.

Everything seemed doubled that day—horse, rider, deer; there were even two of us. Before we left, we saw two skinks, one of them whipping along a fallen tree with nude white wood, the other spasming through the grass at the sound of our bipedal steps.


Photography by Parker Grice

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