White Deer Twins on the Riverwalk

White Deer Twins on the Riverwalk
These rare white deer twins were born this summer and have found a safe home at Dan Daniel Park and on the Riverwalk
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My name is David Hoffman. I teach English and journalism at Averett University, but I have two side interests - writing and photography. I also enjoy walking daily with my English setter, Sadie, and my wife, Elizabeth, on the Danville, Virginia, Riverwalk. As a novice to studying nature, I am fascinated by the slightest facets of the great outdoors, but most of my pictures are of birds - I don't know a lot about them, but I am learning more and enjoying taking pictures of them daily. I also take pictures of plants, other animals, and insects. All pictures posted for each day were taken on the day of my blog entry.

Leave a comment if you have the time or e-mail me at dhoffman@averett.edu


Sunday, May 2, 2010


(WEEKEND - May 1, 2, 2010) One week until Mother's Day.

On the river, mothers are everywhere, looking after their newborn - for survival. Predators like turtles in the rivers, hawks in the sky and even Sadie on the land keep the mothers and the gaggle of geese ever alert to any danger sign. They seem to have established a fairly sophisticated warning system with look-outs up and down the river on the ground and in the air. As Sadie and I approach, the honking begins; when other walkers, without dogs, approach, the birds seem less alarmed - the four legged creatures put a scare in them.

This spring I have seen nests in unusual places. There are the Canada geese who have nested 30+ feet above the river on the pilings of a bridge; there is the domestic goose who has nested in a tree and others that have nested in the debris piled up under the bridges; there is the wren that has nested in a wooden sign on the Riverwalk, and there is the osprey that has nested on top of the electric tower at the Brantley Steam Plant facility. During the last couple of evening at Angler's Park, I'm almost sure I've seen a bluebird nested on the top of a football goal post, though it could have just been sitting there like the Stylites of the 4th century (Simeon Stylite the Elder sat on a column for 30 years).

Of course, the wildlife are not the only ones being looked over and protected by adults. Saturday evening, as we were returning to my Jeep at Angler's Park, a family of five (an infant, two children - possibly twins - around 4 or 5, and two adults) was getting their fishing equipment out of their car. The two oldest children saw Sadie, and I heard the little girl say, "Awwwww....look at the pretty dog."

She and the boy started over to us, and the father said, "Don't go near dogs you don't know." They stopped. I held Sadie by the chest and asked, "Is it OK for them to pet her? She is gentle." The man said, "That would be fine." The children came over and petted Sadie on the head. After a minute or so, I said, "Good luck fishing." They headed back to their parents.

Parents are alert to any threat that impacts their child's life. This past week, my daughter, in Sweden, had developed a bad cold. I talked with her on Skype, and she looked snifflie and not well. As a father, I said, upon the conclusion of our conversation, "Don't forget to take your medicine, and I hope you start feeling better."

My other daughter, Christy, called me early in the week from Chicago. She and her husband, Eduardo, had to have their Puerto Rican rescue dog, Andre, put to sleep. Christy had had the dog for about 6 years, and Andre was her first dog and her first rescue dog (she has another Chicago rescue named Grizzley). She was sobbing and I was sobbing. As a father I wanted this to not have happened, but I knew that there was nothing I could do but to show that I, too, was saddened at the loss of this wonderful 90+ pound shepherd mix.

As a father, I wanted to fix both situations, but there was nothing I could do. Only time would heal my daughter who was sick, and only time would heal the sadness of my daughter who had lost her dog.

Parents do all they can to love their offspring, whether their offspring are furry chicks or adult daughters. Even the best protective wall that can be provided, doesn't always keep the offspring safe. Last year there were two mallards who proudly displayed their three ducklings in late summer. They were swimming around near the train station. I saw them every morning for a week; however, by the end of the week, there were only two ducklings. Whatever happened to the one missing duckling, I don't know, but the parents were very protective of the other two. The two ducklings grew and are now somewhere on the river.

The beauty of the river provides a wonderful place for wildlife right here in Danville; it also provides a place where my thoughts spring forth and my soul is refreshed daily. As a parent, I can only hope the same for my children.

It was a wonderful two days on the Riverwalk.

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