The Doe

The Doe

My nervous system felt like it had been tightening and fraying all week. I wasn’t sure why until Saturday arrived and I had a serious day of showing my beloved home to three wonderful couples, two of whom really felt and saw the magic of this peaceful home under ancient live oak trees as I did seven years ago. I didn’t sleep much Saturday night, my mind wondering about the next step as my path unfolds into deeper communion with deep earth in the mountains.

Sunday morning I had to give my nervous system some relief, even in my fatigue. So my uber-fun road bike was loaded into the wagon and off I went for a nice ride.

Once I got helmet, gloves and cleats on I saddled up and started pedaling. A quick warmup past the bald eagle nests, with babies no less, was my plan. But I was struggling from lack of sleep and a mind that refused to stop the chatter. So I said aloud to nature, I need you to help my mind quieten and let go. 

As soon as I turned the corner on the trail, standing in the trail was a big white-tailed deer….a doe. She didn’t run. She stayed right there staring into my eyes. I felt a deep peace envelop me. I wanted to grab my phone to take a photo but dared not move any more than I was already. (These photographs were taken by me in Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountain National park).

It seemed as if our eyes were locked forever as she showed me a deep sense of grace and grounded peace. I know my lower jaw was hanging slack until I managed to whisper….thank you.

She finally stepped off the trail, but just barely so, and looked back at me as if to say, Did you get that?

Tears slid from my eyes as I experienced the answer to my request.

I rode past the eagle nest and saw a tiny head peeking above the edge which reminded me of the poem I wrote a few days ago…my love letter to Mother Earth.

The state park is my cycling place, my place to take Buddy on long walks and has been a place of incredible beauty…and frustration as I watch the park get more city-park-like every day. They are chasing the wild out….but that’s another blog.

I continued for nearly 20 miles feeling immense gratitude for places that are wild and especially for this place that has been in my life since I was a child swimming in Lake Shelby….a teen working in the campground or at the interpretive office…and later as park naturalist after I graduated from Auburn. It’s where I worked when my daughter was born…and where I go to to ride through the flat, coastal living landscape.

I’ve seen deer, a jaguarundi, bobcats, foxes, bald eagles, osprey, cottonmouths, armadillos, all kinds of other snakes and lizards, owls, shore birds and hawks. I even saw a groove-billed ani on a Christmas bird count one year….a rare sighting for our area. And lots of woodpeckers and alligators, raccoons, opossums, squirrels….oh, the other day I had a squirrel run between my tires as I cycled past…the closest I’ve ever come to running over one. I always wondered how bad the crash would be with a squirrel….it doesn’t take much for a crash to happen. So yes….a lot of wildlife has been revealed to me at Gulf State Park. And no, I didn’t crash but I don’t know what happened to the squirrel.

So I felt some sadness about moving away as I pedaled but also felt a deeper sense of my work calling me forward where I know more adventures and more people await.

It’s funny how one encounter can so change me. I still sense the energy of that beautiful doe staring at me, reminding me to stay in my body, to release my racing mind and to simply be present…with her, baby eagles, squirrels, pine trees….and myself.

All photographs copyright Simone Lipscomb.


In preparation for our move I’ve been telling Buddy about bears….that really, they are just cows with longer fingernails….so he doesn’t freak when he sees one and get him and me both in serious trouble. He loves the black cows that live in the pasture next to our home….so here’s hoping a big bear won’t be too much of a shock.

on the deck of my former home in the mountains
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