Many years ago, we lived on a ranch way up north in Washington state. My dad owned a lot of land there, and he leased grazing rights on a lot more. We had a 600-acre piece of land overlooking a lake with lots of big trees called ponderosa pine. This area was one of my favorite places to go and contemplate my navel.
One day, I was walking through this area, just slowly enjoying everything – a lazy, lazy day. Up ahead of me there was a movement that caught my eye. As I drew closer, I could see it was a deer. To my surprise there was a man with the deer, then I realized there were three deer all walking with the man.
As I got closer, he turned and walked towards me. The deer followed him. They were not afraid of me. As he came up to me, I could see he was of Native American descent. The deer walked right up to me. This was amazing! They were not a bit afraid.
He said, “Hi,” like he had known me all his life. The deer went over under a tree and laid down. He turned, walked over and set down on a log. He softly said, “Set down,” as he motioned to the log.
I didn’t know what to say. I just smiled and said, “It’s a beautiful day.”
He smiled, saying, “Couldn’t be better.”
I nodded. “Are the deer pets?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “No, they just like to walk with me.”
I went on, “They are not afraid of me.”
He laughed. “That’s because I was not afraid of you.”
Looking down through the trees at that beautiful lake, we had a long conversation about nothing, just talk. In the conversation, I ask him what he was doing there.
He just replied, “I live here.” Then he turned with a frown on his face. “What are you doing here? We own this land.” With another frown, he said, “No one owns the land, except the great Creator.”
When our talk was over, he got up and walked away into the shadows of the trees. The deer slowly got up and followed him into the shadows.
I do not know where he came from. I have never seen him again. As near as I can determine, no one else has ever seen him.
The Bible says “beware you may entertain angels, unaware.” Maybe I did.
A storyteller, John Zentz, 87, will share a blend of fact and fiction in his bimonthly column. Some tales he’s lived through, some he’s been told. Zentz and his family are longtime Hubbard County residents. He has a picture of his grandmother and grandfather, seven times removed, sitting on a porch in Park Rapids.