It was 3 degrees below zero when I shut off the snooze alarm for good this morning. As I drove to work with my truck's heater battling the cold outside air, I looked at the bare trees on the hills adjoining the road and wondered where deer go when it's so cold.
Do they huddle together to share body heat? Do they paw at the hills' leafy floors to fashion a rude nest of dead leaves for them to lie in and trap their own warmth? Do they find a dense stand of pine trees somewhere, a place where maybe not so much snow has reached the ground because of the trees' awning of needles?
Do they understand the concept of cold being a contrast to hot? When you and I are sliced by a cutting west wind of winter, we shudder and tell ourselves we won't be in the cold for long—we'll be sheltered soon in our warm cars, our offices or homes. Do deer understand cold as a temporary condition? Perhaps cold for them is simply a matter of the moment—a moment that does not exist in contrast with any moments that have come and gone, or will come and go.
What does cold mean to a deer? It makes me wonder.