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


Wednesday, August 11, 2010


(AUGUST 11, 2010) Each day on the Riverwalk there are life and death stories. The food chain on the river keeps the larger animals alive while the smaller animals are constantly alert to the dangers of the predators. This is one of those stories . . .

Sadie and I got out to the Riverwalk at about 6:45 this morning. The dark woods were dark, the brown river was brown and the great blue heron was . . . great and blue. Not much different from other mornings as I thought, which I do every morning, "I wonder if I'll have anything to write about today?" So far, for over 120 mornings, something has prompted a story idea.

This morning, I started noticing patterns in nature (the "S" shape of the heron's neck, the serpentine vines growing along the fences, and the star shape of a beautiful pink flower just to name a few). I began consciously taking pictures of patterns in nature.

Other possible ideas came to mind as we walked our 3 miles. However, it was on the way back that I met another walker, and we started a conversation. During the conversations I have on the Riverwalk, Sadie entertains herself with her stalking of whatever may move in the length of her leash. She will stalk, point, and, sometimes, attack.

We had stopped by a honeysuckle bush that had small flowers now. I was taking a picture of some moths and butterflies and bees as the individual stopped to talk. Among the small flowers there were two very beautiful tiger swallowtail butterflies darting among the sweetness of the honeysuckle. Right after our conversation ended, one of the swallowtails flew right over Sadie's head, and Sadie took a leap in the air. It was in the reach of Sadie strong jaws, but she just missed it.

She followed the butterfly until it landed on a low branch of the honeysuckle. She stood there, lifted her front paw, pointed and lurched forward, grabbing the beautiful creature between her teeth.

I let out a primordal cry of "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

It was too late. The beautiful creature was struggling its last moments as Sadie pulled at its wings and finally let it be as it fluttered its last flutter.

I was sad that this beautiful creature had fallen to my predator dog, and was a little upset at Sadie but more upset with myself for allowing Sadie to carry out this killing.

We passed one more beautiful butterfly on a lower branch of a bush before we got back to the car, and I kept Sadie at least several yards away from the beauty as she pointed at it.

As we left the park, I thought about the cruelty I had just witnessed as Sadie had taken down the beautiful butterfly. I was getting a little angry at Sadie for doing what she does.

I exited the ramp onto the expressway and found myself fussing at Sadie. The car got up to 60 mph and my fussing became louder. At 65 I looked back in my rear view mirror and saw Sadie looking at me. As I glanced back at the road, I saw, just ahead of the car, coming in my direction, fluttering along in an up and down path, a beautiful tiger swallowtail butterfly just the size of the one Sadie had taken down in the park.

SMACK!!! Right into the windshield.

I thought, "Karma," and drove silently home.

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