SHE watches me as I leave the house. I’m never sure exactly where she’ll be standing. Sometimes she has a leaf in her mouth.
Her ears are set high, her big black eyes with a spark of light on them and her nose shining. If we catch eyes, she’ll turn and just dissolve into green leaves. No sound, no violent cracking of twigs or swishing of branches. Just silence as in a 1920s film.
But now and then I catch her out. Somewhere within the three or four acres that is her home I can ambush her. By walking as silently as herself and at the speed as a snail, I can see her first.
I can watch that muscular grace that gymnasts have. That is alluring. I can watch that lovely, long neck dipping and bending to the flowers. A petal here, a bud there, while the muscles slip with power and ease along her legs. Ballet dancers can do this, but you know when they smile with joy as Juliet, their tendons might be screaming and their shoulders doused with painkillers.
But not this Nyad. Her ligaments and bones and pumped muscles are engineered for continual use and her diet is above suspicion.
She is moulded to the forest and the great outdoors and she is anyway not expected to run for an hour on a hard surace. She has leg warmers of heavy hair but her skin beneath is thick as sheet steel. She is lovely to behold.
In the centuries long past, the roe deer became extinct in the south of Britain. Strange that big landowners did not treasure just a few to enjoy their presence.
Of course they herded fallows with ha-has and boundary walls but they are little more than wild cattle in comparison.
Graceful cattle. But strutting ruminants, the bucks especially with that Adam’s Apple sticking up like a road cone.
There are three or four roebucks in the woods which at the moment, with the rut only three weeks away, are sentinel on their stands.
They paw the ground, scrape the bushes, and explode in anger at my scent or sight. “Rah-rah-raaaaar” they scream abusively as they bound up and down like Romeo about to attack Tybalt and carry their banner of insults deep into the nether.
Meanwhile she just stands and glances from me to him, wondering what all the fuss is about.
Or so I like to think. Somewhere, perhaps even in my own garden, wild as it is, her kid is waiting for her.
It has happened once or twice before in the past 40 years, with her mother, grandmother, great grandmother in the Capulet dynasty.