For this week’s #WednesdayWords we decided to focus on a quintessential Christmas creature, the reindeer! We don’t just mean Rudolph and his team; let this week’s prompt take you far and wide on the theme of reindeer. To get you thinking, before I reveal the prompt itself, I’ve put together some reindeer facts that I learnt from the incredible team up in Scotland that look after the Cairngorm Reindeer Herd!
- Male and female reindeer shed their antlers at different times. Male reindeer shed after rutting season, meaning that they lose their antlers over the winter whilst female reindeer shed their antlers in the summer! (This also means that Santa’s reindeer were all female!)
- Reindeer’s feet (or rather the tendons in their ankles) emit a ‘clicking’ sound when they walk. This is so that, in a blizzard or storm, reindeer can still keep track of one another and move as a herd by using the clicking!
- Reindeer, like a lot of other animals including horses, rarely give birth to twins. In fact, it’s so rare that there have only been TWO sets of live twins born worldwide; the first was in Finland in 2010 and the second set was earlier this year in Scotland in the Cairngorm Reindeer Herd!
Hopefully, that’s got your mind whirring about reindeer because, here is this week’s prompt:
We locked eyes across the snow-covered mountain, hers deep brown, boring into mine, watching me, strangely human…
Of course, we had a go!
I don’t know why I’d thought it was a good idea to trek up the side of a mountain in winter, in the snow and the freezing wind by myself. When I’d got out of bed this morning, it had seemed like an adventure, romanticised through my dream-laden eyes. But, as I carefully placed one foot in front of the other, teetering on the edge of a sharp incline, I wondered if in fact, I was crazy. Even the tree’s up ahead seemed to be staring at me incredulously, long, tangled limbs gently brushing my hair back from my face as I trudged past. Despite the freezing cold, I was sweating, wrapped in as many layers as I could find. It was a strange sensation as beads of sweat rolled down my cheek, only to turn into ice cold tears before collecting in my woollen scarf. Up ahead I could see a break in the dense forest which, hopefully, also signalled the top of my climb. I’d lost track of how long I’d been scaling this mountain a long time ago. Pushing forward, I clambered over a few hazardous rocks, covered in a thin sheet of frost, and emerged from the cover of the trees to a whitewash mountain scene. Momentarily, I forgot my irritation and discomfort as the soft white snow seared itself into my brain. I was lucky, if you could call it that, that it wasn’t sunny, or I would have found myself snow-blind on the edge of a mountain, there was that much spread out in front of me. I couldn’t see any other human footprints in the fresh powder, just the occasional determined leaf of a plant pushing it’s way through the winter blanket. As I walked further onto the mountain top, the landscape made itself known through the film of white. Rocks dotted themselves around sporadically, each one peeking from the snow to shatter the perfect white of the scene. The ground rolled in waves that seemed to stretch on indefinitely. I turned around, trying to take it all in and stopped. Across the open space, still close enough that I could make out the soft fluffy fur, stood a singular reindeer. Her head swivelled towards me as I froze, mirroring my stance. We locked eyes across the snow-covered mountain, hers deep brown, boring into mine, watching me, strangely human. I shook my head, hoping I was delirious. She regarded me quietly as I told myself to stop anthropomorphising animals to fit with the winter scene in my mind. When I looked back up, hoping she hadn’t moved on, I found my eye’s widening. She had padded closer to me, pausing as I looked up, but continuing after a second. I could hear a strange clicking as she moved, each click perfectly timed with her footfalls. She stopped centimetres from me, chocolate eyes staring. Up close, I could see the coarse, thick fur that shrouded her, the colour merging smoothly from snowy white to a pale brown. Her antlers extended towards me. I’d expected them to look sharp and tough, but instead they looked like velvet. I kept completely still, one part terrified I would scare her if I moved, the other part aware that she was very much a wild animal. She snorted, puffing dragon’s breath out into the air and shook her head, almost as if she was laughing at me. Very slowly, I reached into my pocket for my phone, heart racing, wanting to take a picture before she moved on. I glanced down at the zip on my pocket, trying to slide it open, when the air whooshed around me. Looking up, I jumped slightly. The soft white snow underfoot undisturbed save for my own footprints. Her tracks had vanished, just as she had, apparently into thin air, leaving me stood alone on the mountain top…
Inspired by our Christmas themed prompt? Send us your own pieces and we will pick one to feature on the website before Christmas. Submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, we look forward to seeing what you come up with! If you want to know more about the Cairngorm Reindeer Herd you can visit their website here.