On the Scent

deer from istock.jpg

Nemo and I take a morning walk almost every day.  Nemo’s particularly fond of snow and ice, and Emilie is not.  Despite this, we find ways to cope.  A regional park not far from my house offers trails through the forest, as well as a wide road that’s plowed at the first sign of snow.  On snowy mornings I walk the road and Nemo prowls the woods as far as his leash will allow.

Our park offers more, as well.  Deer are a common sight, deer not afraid of humans nor rambunctious beagles.  In the past Nemo has studiously ignored them, turning to look the other way, as if to say, “I need some time for rest and mediation, thank you.”  In fact Nemo, who was clearly bred for hunting, ignores nearly every living thing except people and insects.  He is as brave as a lion when his prey is a cricket or moth.  Squirrels are fine as long as they’re already heading up a tree.  Squirrels on the ground?  Rabbits?  Not so much.

This morning Nemo was the first to see four beautiful does standing in the woods.  Before he could reconsider he lunged, dragging me along, and, for a moment, I thought we might see a deer stampede.  Not so.  Having proved his stout heart, Nemo stopped to watch the fun.  The deer stopped just in front of us to watch him, clearly aware that they were in no danger.  

Nemo was on the scent, and now he had to figure out what to do with it.  After what looked like some serious beagle brainwork, Nemo decided he was born to watch.  In fact we would still be standing there, the dog, the deer and me, if I hadn’t finally turned around and started back to the car. 

I understand Nemo’s predicament.  I’m on the scent these days, as well. I can sniff the promise of a new book.  Ideas are beginning to race through the thicket in my mind, demanding I chase them down and corral them into some kind of order.   Some disappear over the horizon, never to be seen again.  Some are weak and not worth the effort.  Some are fat and healthy and ready for me to walk right up to them.  Like Nemo’s morning prey.

Together Nemo and I are lunging forward, watching carefully, taking mental notes.  A book is in the wind, just as the deer were today.  We plan to be ready. 


  1. Ellen Dye on March 6, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Hey Emilie!
    Wonderful post. We live in the middle of the woods and long walks are one of the things I enjoy most. Well, that and the deer that just casually stroll by our deck 🙂
    Hope your weekend is a wonderful one! Ellen

  2. Emilie Richards on March 6, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    This sounds idyllic. Nemo would adore it–me, too.

  3. Diane Chamberlain on March 7, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Emilie, Nemo sounds a lot like my Keeper and Jet when faced with deer. The deer are in our backyard nearly every day (with new babies every year; gets kind of scary). They look at the dogs, the dogs look at them. Then everybody shrugs and goes on about their business.
    I LOVED your Guatemala pictures, by the way! The colors are amazing.

  4. Emilie Richards on March 7, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    I’m surprised your guys don’t try to round them up, but clearly our dogs weren’t told what they’d been bred to do. I like them all just fine the way they are. And thanks for the kind words on my Guatemalan photos. It was difficult not to take photos everywhere I went.
    Thanks for commenting. As you know your blog and your books are WAY up there on my favorites list. http://www.dianechamberlain.com is a very fine place to spend an afternoon, unless I’m tucked in bed with one of your novels.

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