| So entrancing are the clouds that the deer are unnoticed until I shift my gaze|
|It's intended just as a bit of a stomp between showers but that isn't the way it turns out, for against all expectation a patch of blue opens in the overcast sky and the sun makes a welcome appearance. Though its presence proves short-lived, its effect is dramatic. The racing clouds obscuring Hecla's summit are transformed by the light. Their tops are still dense as fleece and grey as ash but the cloud bases begin to thin and break away and, lit by the sun to paler greys and creams, they pour down the face of the mountain and roll into the corrie where they swirl like smoke before lifting again to rejoin the main cloud mass.|
So entranced am I by the constantly changing cloudscape that the deer remain unnoticed until I shift my gaze and find myself surprisingly close to where they stand motionless on a rocky rise among the heather. I know that for one of them at least, this is a regular haunt for he is instantly recognisable by his antlers. Except that should really be "antler", as one is gone completely giving him a strange asymmetrical appearance – and the one that remains, though fairly well grown, is straight as a stick with just a single branching tine. Its shape suggests that this is a young animal and I'm curious as to the fate of its other antler – could it have been lost after an incautious encounter with a mature stag during last year's rut?
Unalarmed as yet by my proximity the pair is nevertheless fully aware of it, gazing down with a mix of wary caution and well-bred hauteur as they wait for the next move. As soon as I take a single step forward they turn away without haste, picking their way through the heather to the summit of the rise where the second of them poses silhouetted against the sky to display a perfect set of antlers and leave me rueing the absence of the camera I'd neglected to bring along.