We are still busy, finishing up various projects from the summerÂ setting out plans for the winter. This morning I found myself thoroughly engrossed in some project or other and barely moved at my desk for more than an hour. I’d started early, when it was still dark, and couldn’t see outside, but wouldn’t have seen any movement anyhow. The phone rang, shaking me to attention, and when I stood up to talk I looked out the window right into the eyes of an eight-point (four tines per side) buck only six feet away. I’d seen the same fellow in the willows yesterday; his antlers still orangey-red from dried blood where he’d just rubbed off the last of his velvet. They must still be itchy though, because he was scratching them in the branches of the tree. He saw me and watched back with a casual and unconcerned air. I went back to work while he scratched and stared in at me for more than half an hour before he got up, stretched and walked away into the willows. When we close in the fall, my annual ritual is to turn off all the outside lights. This year, the very next night after the lights went out the compound was busy as animals reclaimed their territories, so it seems we’re in for another winter of critter-watching.