We're sitting on the deck watching the evening fade. A slight breeze picks up and the day's heat slips away. Hummingbirds jockey for a last feeding. Black-headed grosbeaks and lazuli buntings sing their final protestations of virility while there's still enough light for the females to admire them. A young buck, two years showing in a thick fork under velvet, browses through the yard, seemingly partial to the flax whose blue petals have fallen with the darkness. The blue will bloom again in the morning, except, of course, where the buck has eaten them short. Blue, our yellow lab, watches the deer with us, fascinated. A second buck follows, his rack almost three times the size of the first one's antlers. There will be four points when the velvet rakes off in the fall, and his body is bulkier. He's also more wary, and turns to face us when he hears a sound. He watches and sweeps his big ears back and forth. We don't move. And then he snorts. And slips into the scrub oak.