If a unicorn had walked out of the woods it could not have been more magical. But we thought it best not to stare too long, we decided we ought to be moving. And so we walked on, but he followed after us.
Antlers grew root-like from his head, and he looked like a slick-wet tree that had sprung free of the earth. If we stopped, he stopped. If we walked, he let us go on for a little while, ran a little ways off. He played with fallen branches, pretending they were rival antlers he could clash up against. And then the desire for company would strike him and he would run up close to us again, like a tame and graceful dog.
I had a camera with me in my bag, but the battery died before I could take any photographs, so I wasn't able to capture anything of our strolling companion. Out walking in the woods, one is prey to peculiar feelings -- that maybe deer cast spells that are stronger than cameras. At home I sketched to remember.
We finally left our friend and walked out to the road. After a short stroll down a cobblestone way, we wandered downstream, through more woods, past the old well and the haunted tree that creaks and rustles all on its own. We followed the direction of the river along a high wooded path and beneath us we saw three more deer that had climbed down the steep ravine to drink at the water's edge. (Though, you can only see two of them in the very quick sketch below.)
At at the old medieval bridge (and which you may have seen in this post from long ago), we looked deep into the black waters below our feet and saw a seal swimming slowly, meditatively, on his back, just below the surface of the river.
Again, time stopped.
He seemed to hang still in the blackness, and then he would vanish, only to reappear a few minutes later. Even as we walked away along the bank of the river, from quite far off we could see his pale body hovering ghostly white against the dark, quiet waters that the bridge watches over.
Where the river empties into the sea, we startled a family of seals basking on the beach. I didn't draw them or the commotion as they shuffled off into the sea. Of that there is just the desperate feeling left by the last, littlest one that was slow to catch on. All alone on the beach, turning backward, stopping a second at sea's brim. One long look before dashing away.