Wild in the Woods

Posted: January 20, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

So I was walking in the forest today, between classes.

For those of you who don’t know, or have never been here, UCSC is a university campus that’s about half-covered in thick coast redwood forest. The trees around my dorm are nearly all redwoods, and in certain parts of campus (like, between Science Hill and Kresge College) the trees are so thick that you can’t see through them.

Walking in a redwood forest might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of you, but for me, it’s part of my daily routine.

In any case, I was heading from my Art History class to my Semantics 1 class, a walk of about ten to fifteen minutes that cuts right across the core of campus, when I suddenly noticed, about ten feet away from me, a buck.

This was no ordinary buck, though. A beast of this kind, in ages past, might have been worshiped as sacred to the Horned God, or possibly kept in a temple sanctuary as a favored pet of Artemis. He stood nearly five feet tall at the shoulder, his head was proud and erect, and his antlers stretched nearly a meter and a half wide. His fur gleamed: it was brown-gray, and shiny with rain– as it should be this time of year, since it has finally begun to rain in Santa Cruz. This was a full-blooded, majestic, Baratheonic, gleaming-antlered stag.

I’ll tell you one thing about the deer here on UCSC’s campus: they’re wild, but they’re not scared of humans. Most of these deer have never heard a hunter’s gun, since guns aren’t allowed on campus. They don’t like it when you run up at them and try to pet them, but they’re not going to bolt and run. They’re merely… there. They accept your presence, and they aren’t afraid of you.

Be that as it may, the campus deer don’t tolerate any shit.

And looking at this specimen, I was suddenly aware of the fact that his antlers were as long and sharp as spears.

I wasn’t going to cross his path. Honestly, I was a little nervous.

But he was polite, and I was polite. He looked at me completely calmly, with the serene gaze of a king. I made an indication that he was free to go. He didn’t move. I stayed still.

Finally the stag got the idea, and crossed my path, heading off to wherever it was that he was going. I heard his hooves clip-clop-clip on the asphalt as he crossed the road, and then he vanished into the trees, off to somewhere hidden, a place that only the deer know.

It made me think… humans and animals coexist peacefully here on campus. We don’t bother them, and they don’t bother us. Why is it that the minute you step off campus, you see timid, small brownish deer that run away whenever they catch sight of you? Why is it that you never see animals on a hiking trail? Everywhere else, they’re afraid of us. I can understand why, too– humans are noisy, and do strange things, and drive mashing metal machines down bare highways and shoot big loud sticks that sound like thunder and kill like lightning. And yeah, there are no guns on campus, but we have cars. We have noises and houses and bright lights.

What makes college students different in the eyes of animals?

Oh, and I didn’t get a picture of the buck. I should have– but I didn’t have my camera.

Not much else to report, today. Spanish class has been cancelled, since my instructor has the flu. I have nothing to do, stretching out into the weekend.

I finished rereading A Game of Thrones yesterday, because it is an excellent book, and one of the cornerstones of modern fantasy. Today I’m rereading Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson, which is also incredible. Maybe I’ll go skiing one of these weekends. Since we’ve been having rain in Santa Cruz, I’m sure that it’s snowing up in Kirkwood.

That’s all for now,


~ Ian


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