Wednesday, July 31, 2013

About That Fawn ...

Can you find the fawn?

The Shih Tzus and I headed out into the garden, me with my Kindle, and they with excited expectations of exploration and new pine cones to chew. But when I had caught up to them they were excited about a deer on the other side of our deer fence. Thank goodness for the sturdiness of the black plastic webbing, because our two doggies are endowed with the bravery bred only of naivete, while the doe was hell bent on destroying them. Fearful for Joey and Buddy, I started heaving stones at the doe. Not my usual greeting to the creatures that share our garden. Surprisingly she barely moved. Puzzled, and fearful for the little dogs, I aimed to hit her, fortunately and comically missing wildly thanks to an arm sprained several weeks ago. Eventually she took off across the meadow to the rear of our house.

We have been in this house with its little half acre of oak-strewn Sierra Nevada foothills for about 30 years. In the beginning there was not much on the slope up behind our home but the native oaks and a patch of vinca or periwinkle perhaps 40 feet in diameter beneath a pair of fig trees. Deer would frequently enjoy resting in the relative coolness there during our hot summer afternoons. Does would bring their fawns there to enjoy the shade and the water available from our little pond. Probably a few generations of deer got to know the place before their numbers increased to the point that their hunger for the developing garden, simple as it was, exceeded their welcome. So the deer fence was installed, nearly encircling the garden, but leaving an opening at the top of the driveway for a little RV to pass through.

Despite its incompleteness, the deer fence is about 80 percent successful - most deer just take the easier route around the outside of the fence to munch on the neighbor's plants. But there are those few who remember the cool afternoons spent with their mother in that delightful oasis, and manage to find the secret entrance. And so it probably was that that doe had come in with her tiny spotted fawn, and then somehow become separated. I realized this when, as I was hustling our doggies into the house, I spied the incredibly tiny fawn, likely no more than hours old, on our little brick patio. My wife actually had to point it out to me, hiding under the fern, completely still, just like its DNA told it too. And just like we have been told, we left it strictly alone, knowing that the mother would come back and find it. And so she did. After a long afternoon of our fretting Hilda happened to look out through the drawn drapes at dusk just as the fawn emerged from the ferns and shrubs to get nuzzled by mom. 

We hope to see them again. The loss of a couple of hydrangea blossoms is nothing compared to the pleasure of seeing deer comfortably bedded down, nearly invisible except for the flicking of their ears above the periwinkle, and with access to water on our hot afternoons. When I look out to see some creature enjoying the coolness of the garden we have grown, or drinking or bathing in our little waterfall we built, I feel that my life is worthwhile, having provided a bit of comfort to at least one of its creatures.

I'll be gettin' to that SM9 ...


  1. Nice report on the fawn. Deer are fun to watch -- unless they are eating your shrubbery or veggie garden.