Wednesday, August 09, 2006


The white deer stood between the trees and the water. It was the most spectacular sighting last weekend at the lake, a weekend that featured our first two sails and a deepening love affair with High Cotton.
A flotilla of barn swallows each morning, turning the air like windsurfers as they worked the obstacle course of masts.
An 18-inch bass that finned just a couple of feet from the shore, escorted by fat sunfish too big to be prey.
A great blue heron that speared a large fish and spent an hour trying to finish it off and eat it.
Mayflies, pale green and brown, clinging to lines and caught in spider webs, their ephemeral lives just a little shortened.
But the deer ...
At first I thought the white shape might be a goat or calf. I was near the head of the little cove, walking Turbo, and it faced me, perhaps watching me as I watched it. After a while, it turned and browsed, becoming deer-shaped. Later, a brown deer came out of the woods and shadowed it along the shore.
A friend wrote about a white deer that lived on her West Virginia farm, but I never saw it. Hunters were allowed on her land if they left the deer alone - color or the absence of color, the black wolf or the white deer, raise an earthly creature to mythic status. This was like watching a unicorn appear and then gradually sift back into the forest, a sighting that unless was confirmed by another would be only a vision, and personal, the way bird watchers hope for an Eskimo curlew or ivory-billed woodpecker - but only if they have someone along to verify that reality.
A friend, Elisa of ElisaDesigns, sent along this information about another sighting - I hope the dark skies over the lake will make this a real show.
She wrote:
This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287. Due to the way Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the Last 5,000 years, but it may be as long as 60,000 years before it happens again. The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles of Earth and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky.
Right now, the Red Planet is rising in the east at 10 p.m. and is at the azimuth around 3 a.m. By the end of the month, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30 a.m.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My husband swears that he saw Mars in the Eastern sky on 8/27/06. Was this a hoax, if so, what did he see?