"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Deer Autumn Story

My grown children tease me about my National Geographic photos and videos.  The countless numbers of them featuring birds fluttering at a feeder;
chipmunks skittering between openings in the stone wall;
the stark shadow of the bare oak branches reflected 
on the snow by a midnight December full moon.
I love them.  They mock them.

This post is another such wildlife story.
But my photo journalistic tendencies are edited, G-rated national Geographics--the good, 
not the bad or ugly.
No creature hunts down and eats the weaker.
No baby gets separated from its mother and wanders in the Sahara until its demise.  No sir.  Not mine.
Mine are sugar-coated.
You can say, "Awwwwwwwww" now.


Summer has passed.
Once again the subtle signs outside declare its passing.
Without a sound.
Not only in the first leaves beginning their turn to yellow
or the tall grasses shades of purple...
but colors and lifestyles of our quiet co-inhabitors.
I like to call them my back yard neighbors.
The predictability of their life cycles speaks peace
among a world often chaotic.

Just a few months ago
one of our mama deer looked like this.
Lovely, don't you think?
Note the roundness to her belly.
I wonder, did she suspect that change was coming?

Because one late spring day she showed up to show off.

Her sweet new baby could hardly walk.
Perhaps it was his very first day in our world.

At the same time another mama had twins.
We watched them all grow.

Weeks passed, the sun grew stronger,
the days grew longer and hotter,
and these young, tottering fawns grew bigger,
and faster, and bolder.

But ALWAYS stayed close to mama.
How does she teach them what to eat,
how to run, 
 be alert to danger from camouflaged snakes,
hungry coyotes, stabbing cactus?
Cars?  People?   
Without words or time outs, they learn.
This may sound silly to you, but I ponder these things.

As summer days slid into official autumn
I noticed that the "babies" no longer wore their distinctive spots.
I wonder why they are born with spots splattering their backs and sides?
Do you know?

 Now, as November whispers for me to turn the page on the kitchen calendar,
these youngsters look so much like their mothers that I can barely distinguish them.
They have all grown a shade darker brown and the youngsters are larger.
But not quite AS big.
They don't walk the slow, dignified, watchful way their mama does either.  Rather they sometimes jump and dash around just for the fun of being a child.

Meanwhile, Mama is being courted by our proud, large and heavily antlered bucks.
They remain elusive until just this time.
Every year.

These youngsters still stay close to mama.
They have all winter to learn from her,
be cared for by her.
But later next spring, much to their surprise, they will be forced to go it alone
as a new wobbly, spotted fawn (or two) takes their place at her side.
I've watched this happen, how they linger nearby,
following their mama from a distance,
not sure how to behave.
Then somehow she lets them know they have grown up.
And they pull away and fit into a new subgroup of yearlings. I call them the "teenagers".

I appreciate our quiet neighbors.
Even when they eat the roses. 

1 comment:

  1. Sharon, wonderful pictures! Isn't it great you have such a view from your house! carol