I planted a Minuet Lilac in my garden. All summer the lilac grew straight and flush with tender green leaves shaped like hearts. Then one day I left the gate open and a young stag came into my garden, a three year old judging from his points. His eyes were fine, round and black. Two of mine would have fit into one of his.

He lay down on the grass, taking that regal pose favoured by French chefs working in lard and ice. That's nice, I thought. That's nice. He rested a few minutes, then rose in a relaxed sort of way and began a stately amble. He walked beautifully, like Louis the Fourteenth. But his casual air was a lie. He knew where he was going and why. The heart-shaped leaves fluttered vainly like Andromeda chained to the rocks. He knew he could take his time. And he did.

He lowered his crowned head in a courtly bow. Then his pink tongue began to flick, in and out, in and out, tearing the leaves from the branches. His fine little white teeth, moving in a circular direction, crunching and crushing them deliberately, one after the other, without haste. Tear, crunch, crush. Tear, crunch, crush.

And when all the leaves were all gone, he thrust his antlers into the bare branches and raked them through again and again, as though he were combing his hair, stripping all the bark. But still he wasn't finished with the Minuet Lilac. For better torque he added a twist after the thrust and before the pull. - Thrust, twist, pull. Thrust twist pull. Until all that remained of the lilac was a bit of stubble and a few sticks on the grass.

Then turning away, with the grace of a ballet dancer, he moved on.