Early autumn sunlight is like an orange spacehopper bouncing round the garden. It cheers up and buffets the landscape, turning it golder and golder as the sun sets, bleaching it back to normal colours as it rises again. This morning was weighted down under a low, misty raincloud, but as it cleared up the landscape refocused, first to a pale wash of its normal self, then—as the day came to a close—halcyon-calm in its valleys and halcyon-golden at its tips. Trees, their greens already dangerously brown with the approaching crunch of dark evenings, turned bright orange at their tops, a silly orange, a false-wig orange, a spacehopper orange.
On the way out of the park this evening I chanced upon a wild muntjac deer. Two, in fact, although I could only see the one. They wander around a lot, perhaps made to feel more secure by the presence of the culled deer in the enclosure around the hill. This one, a pot-bellied, sharp-eyed clown of a deer, clearly saw me but—in the absence of a favourable wind to carry my human smell—didn’t really know what to make of my fluorscent upper body and mechanized lower frame. Bright orange trees are only to be expected when the days grow colder; bright yellow predators are just too stupid and self-defeating an idea for a deer to entertain.
He chewed on the grass for a while, stopping occasionally to stare at me. Off to the right, behind a hedge and a hill, another deer barked and honked, like a fat man who’s seen something ridiculous and doesn’t know whether to guffaw or complain; perhaps he could smell from far away what his companion could not see close up. But the chewy little deer-pig carried on chewing, only starting and trotting away as I finally decided I’d have to get home. Even then, he got about thirty paces away and then turned around to give me another look, chewing all the while. As he finally wandered off into the dark of the hedge, I reckoned that his friend was (from the now distant sound of his bark) long gone, springing and bounding his way into the Wychwood Forest like the low, slanting rays of sunlight themselves.