The plants haven't come in yet. But by mid-June they'll make a tasty salad for my antlered bugler.
Last year I planted flowers in the front yard that elk and deer don't like: dianthus, marigolds and heather. And they usually leave the currant bushes and potentilla alone.
We have a high deck off the back side of our house. But the ground rises on the west side to surround and support the hot tub. The big bull will come right up that hill and peer through the banister at me.
When he's this close, his size awes me. I feel the stamp of his hoof on the soft earth, the huff of his breath as he blows dust from his nostrils. His long ears swivel and turn like miniature satellites, tuned to danger signals. But his liquid, brown eyes dismiss my five-foot presence as unworthy of concern.
The real-ness, the gritty-ness of his life:
the sloughing winter fur,
the scar on his brow from last fall's rut,
the rip and pull of the dried grass as he yanks a hunk from the dirt,
his need for sustenance,
his instinct to put on weight and grow bigger than the other bulls,
to pass on his genes to the next elk generation. . .
It touches the worshipper in me. What an amazing Creator is God. Both man and animal reflect His glory.
It's not like viewing a slice of the elk's life on some nature program on tv, or in a National Geographic magazine. His daily struggle for the life God has given him has become real to me.
This summer I've decided not to try to shoo him off my hill when he comes for my shrubs. The plants will grow back, but the chance to stand nose to nose with only a few cedar slats separating me from this eight hundred pound creature is a rare priviledge.
"But ask the animals and they will teach you. . . Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:7, 9-10)