A thin coat of snow lines the back field’s tractor tire ruts this morning. I look out on my world of deep browns, tans, greys, and now, streaks of white. Some green remains – the evergreens, the rhododendron leaves (now curled and limp), and some spots of grass on the neighboring lawn – the last brave stalwarts in this dark season.
A herd of deer comes out from the wooded lot down back to graze on whatever they can find, but the snow is not deep yet, and there’s still food for them, though I see them growing thinner.
There was a family of four this season, a doe with three fawns! It’s hard to imagine that creature bearing three young and surviving.
Later in the year, a fourth fawn joined them, that the annoyed mother kept shooing away from her own. The young one was persistent though. It would move away, then return, move away, then return. After several weeks the mother finally accepted the new charge – every once in a while butting at the outsider, perhaps reminding it that it wasn’t part of the family.
Another family of two would come into the yard, keeping their distance from the rest, but when the neighbor’s crab apple tree loosed its fruit there was a tussle for ownership of the treats on several occasions.
Most of the time it was just that family of three, and their interloper.
I’d walk down back to dump compost, or tend the garden, and they’d stare at me in their pricked-up eared, statuesque posture, until they decided I wasn’t a threat.
I’d talk to the mama across the field. “It’s ok, mama. I’m not gonna hurt you or the kids. You’re safe with me.”
I’m glad our land is a sanctuary. We’re too close to other houses for hunters, and I don’t think they can hunt when the fawns are young, though I know that doesn’t always stop them.
Vehicles are the deers’ biggest threat outside of disease, the increase in the deer-tick population, or bigger predators, and I know the herd must be culled to keep them healthy, but I’d miss them if they were gone.
Their presence is a testament to life, to the enduring cycles of birth and death somehow bringing me peace – but I doubt I provide the same reassurance that life persists for them.
© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current