I have lived in Dorset now for just over Six years (cue wailing and gnashing of teeth from those I left behind. Or cheering), and in that time I have seen a few of the animals that live in the surrounding countryside - many of them quite close. Usually these have been Rabbits, Squirrels, the odd Fox and run over Badgers. Well, tonight I got to add one of the most elusive inhabitants around to that list; Deer.
And my meeting with these Deer (oh yes - not just one, two Deer) did not happen by chance. Karma engineered it.
Tonight the rural temperature is pssibly going to drop as low as -11, and I have two elderly friends who live in a very old house that doesn't stay very warm. Well, at my workplace I found a convection heater and I asked my boss if I could lend it to my elderly friends to use until the cold weather has passed. I knew that I would make a big difference to them, and as they are 79 and 73 respectively, I wanted to help. My boss said yes, so I put the heater in my car and drove over to my friends house.
And it was as I was driving to my friends house that I had my close encounter with Bambi and his mate. I was driving along a typical Dorset road - flanked by hedgerow and peppered with mud and manure - when I saw these two Deer ahead at one side of the road.
I slowed down in anticipation that the Deer might run out in front of me. And they did - but not until I was almost level with them. And they didn't run out - they casually sauntered into the middle of the road and stared at me and my car with almost nonchalant disdain. It was as if they were saying "What is that awful car you are driving?"
I was mesmerised; these two Deer were simply beautiful. I have never been so close to them before and it was incredible to see them so close. I could have happily sat there for hours looking at them, but sadly the feeling was not reciprocated. Without so much as a "Cheerio!" the two Deer turned and skipped through the hedgerow and out of sight. Ever so slightly disappointed, I carried on my journey and delivered the heater to my friends. Once again, Karma had rewarded me.
Throughout my learning Sign Language, one thing has been drummed into me: If I don't use it, I will lose it - forget all I have learnt. I will soon be going to a local Deaf Club to Sign with people and keep up my knowledge, but in the meantime and up until now I have been on the lookout for Deaf people to practice my Signing on. Without success.
And when I say "on the lookout", I don't mean in an Evil, Terminator kind of way.
However today, as I walked home for lunch, I saw a car driving slowly as its driver looked for something. Being a helpful sort of chat, I walked over and asked if I could help. It turns out that I knew the building he was looking for - and that he was quite severely Deaf. His speech wasn't pronounced properly - that, and he had a hearing aid.
So as we were talking (he was saying thank you, I was saying 'oh, don't mention it - happy to help.'), I was itching to ask him if he knew Sign Language and try out a few phrases. I even felt my hands rising up, ready to Fingerspell my name. Luckily (for him) I resisted the urge.
But is this desire to practice what you are learning a common occurrence? Or am I just some sort of weird stalker? Do students of Martial Arts yearn to get into a situation where they have to either A) use someone's body weight against them, or B) defend themselves against attacking pieces of plywood?
Do people learning foreign languages constantly nag friends and family to ask them what the Mandarin Chinese word for "Protractor" is?
Do work experience motor mechanics ruin all weekend plans for their parents by attempting to strip out, re-bore, and replace the engine on the family car?
They must do surely. I know I need to do Sign Language regularly to keep it fresh in my mind. I feel a bit like a sort of Sign Language superhero, patrolling the land looking for Deaf people to help in the Post Office, or at the Doctors.
Except I'm not, and I can't find any Deaf People.