As Boone made the final steps toward the forested shore, the sky began to lighten. He felt the wind on his cheeks. A wind shift-to the south-this would be very good for him. His scent would be carried away to the north. He thought, “If I am quiet and move slowly, I just may see more than birds.” As he reached the shore, the first late afternoon rays of sunlight brightened his path. A smile came to his 11-year-old lips. With the sun out, he would be able to see better in the woods. Glancing down to where the shore met the ice edge he saw dark ice. Dark ice meant thin ice. Avoiding the ice, he chose the rock imbedded in the shore as his step.
Onshore he stopped and took a deep breath. He was relieved, and excited. He now knew the trip home across the ice would be safe. The thought occupying his mind now was, “what is ahead of me, what will I see?” His grandfather’s words came next, “God puts a surprise outside for you every day. Will you be out there to see it?” He was.
He took another deep breath and let it out slowly. He reminded himself to be calm. He determined to walk slowly and stop often. Carefully he stepped into the trees. He glanced behind. The sunlight illuminated the trees on the south side of every trunk. Light and shadow were everywhere. The snow-covered lake ice in the background made his heart surge. Boone was amazed. Why did sights like this thrill his heart? He took another deep breath. This one came from awe. He wondered, would this be the daily surprise Grandpa always told him to seek?
Then he remembered something he should have done before stepping into the forest. He looked around; then around the trees near the tops. He’d forgotten to check for the Mountain Lion. He scanned slowly and carefully in a complete circle. He made no sound. As he came back to his starting place, he let out a slow breath. It was relief. No Mountain Lion in view.
He was ready to move farther south. He decided to stay at the edge of the trees. He was thankful he did, but this came later. Coming to a clear-cut swath in the forest he stopped and looked behind again. Washed in the winter sun light was an Iron-wood tree. It still had rich-brown leaves clinging to some of its branches. He stood and admired the shape and silhouette of the tree. He noticed how it grew more to the east and less on the west side of the tree. Of course, there was more sunlight toward the clear-cut. Was this his surprise? He thought of grandpa’s other advice, “you’ll know which was your surprise when you get home and think about what you saw.”
He turned to face west. He decided to walk west along the clear-cut. He took two steps. His eyes picked up a brown mass about 100 yards ahead. Boone had learned to estimate distances outside from his dad. Now, he was thankful he had listened. He stood, focused on what was ahead of him. Having spent considerable time outside with dad and grandpa, Boone knew this brown mass did not fit in with the forest surroundings. It was neither tree or brush. It moved. Boone’s senses went into hyper-alert. Slowly he lowered himself to his knees. Another of his dad’s lessons flashed through his mind, “keep low.”
As he watched, unsure of what this animal was, he saw a second brown mass. A moment later, it moved too. Then he saw an ear twitch. Just as quickly, he could make out the head of the animal. It was a deer. By its size, Boone guessed it was possibly a yearling. It looked small. He watched the second brown mass. It was a deer. Boone’s next thought, “these are twins.”
Boone did not notice his breathing. He forgot the south wind on his left cheek. He forgot the Ironwood and the light and shadows with the lake behind. He never thought to check for the Mountain Lion. He knew he did not need to wait until he was home to know what his surprise was. It was the deer. He froze. A moment later one of the deer lifted its head and pointed its ears toward him. Boone understood this one knew he was there. He remembered his earlier decision to stay along the edge of the trees. He was thankful.
Boone believed that God directed his steps. He had been taught this since he was old enough to understand. He smiled now at the realization that he had experienced God leading him. Now he watched. While one deer watched the other picked at something on the ground. When they slowly began to move toward him Boone anticipated them coming much closer. His heart beat faster. While they slowly edged closer, the same deer kept its eyes and its ears on the alert. He was disappointed when just as smoothly they began to move into the forest to his right. It was not long before both had blended perfectly with their surroundings. Tree trunks, branches and brown grass in light and shadow enabled the brown twin deer to disappear.
After they were gone, Boone was still kneeling. He was savoring, totally enjoying the wonderful sight he had just witnessed. Time passed with Boone deep in thought. Moments later he came to a decision. It was time to go home. While he had not explored this wild place fully, he knew he had witnessed and delighted in his “God made nature surprise.” He would go home. On the way he would relive the seconds with the whitetails. His walk across the ice seemed routine now. He couldn’t wait to share his afternoon story with his family. He’d seen more than birds!