In my new neighborhood, deer are part of the landscape. Until we raised the fence in our backyard, they were a constant part of that space – and I admit, now that they’ve begun to focus entirely on our front yard, I’ve thought of them as a nuisance. Nuisances that eat the flowers and blossoms off my clematis (beautiful & delicious evidently!), nuisances who may kill my day lilies before I can transplant them safely to the backyard this fall, nuisances that dictate what plants I will even think about adding to the front beds.
Then last night happened. We came home with groceries, and I insisted on showing off to my husband the 7 or so foot tall pile of dead branches I’d amassed over the past several days, cleaning out our juniper stands. Walking quickly in that general direction, eager to show off the result of my hard work, I startled when a small, white-spotted fawn jumped up from the side hedge, trying to get its balance. Immediately, we could see that one of its front legs was broken. Just imagining the pain it must have been feeling hit both of us hard, and we quickly backed away, not wanting to scare the poor baby any more than we already had.
For the rest of the evening, we watched this little fawn, in between reading up on how to know when a fawn needs help, wildlife rescue, etc. We knew that the mother was just a few houses down, and that interfering with the fawn was the last resort. It hurt to imagine the pain and fear that s/he must have been feeling. Mostly, the fawn lay calmly, curled up in our side hedge. Right as I was going to bed, it took several painful looking steps, then settled down again. We decided that in the morning, if it was still there, not moving well, we would start making calls. I laid down, still reading up on fawns and broken limbs, unable to shake the image of the little baby limping so badly. A bit later, my husband came to bed telling me that he couldn’t see the fawn anywhere: the mother must have returned, and somehow her baby was able to keep up with her.
This morning, there was a different fawn in our yard, walking on four solid legs, and in the afternoon the story continued. Across the street the fawn that we’d come to think of as our broken-limbed front yard dwelling baby and its sibling, who’d been in our yard in the morning, were nursing. It was clear that our baby fawn’s leg was in worse shape, and also that it had gotten much better at 3 legged walking. And when the mother walked away, clearly done nursing her babies, her limp was noticeable. Maybe she had also been a fawn with a broken limb, who healed as best she could and kept going.
Now, these 3 feel like friends somehow. The limping mother, moving on with her life, but slow enough that her broken-legged baby can keep up, the rambunctious 4 strong legged sibling, and our front yard fawn. The baby who stared at us, struggling to balance, who seems to be becoming a functional 3 legged deer. Friends that we care for, that I notice and keep an eye out for. Friends who I don’t mind sharing my front yard with (after all, I have an entire backyard where fruit trees, lilacs, tomatoes and other berries and herbs can safely grow) because, like me, they are growing up in Missoula. I came to this town as a not quite 2 year old with my parents, and this place is where I began to become the person that I am. Just as these fawns are becoming the deer they will be – one a dainty 3 legged walker, one an energetic 4 legged walker.
This past 24 hours with our local deer has made me think deeply about many things: urban wildlife, land stewardship, why humans have more rights than deer, and who am I to call them a nuisance? Our broken-legged fawn captured my heart last night, and I felt some semblance of what I imagine a mother would feel, caring for a sick baby, but unable to wave a wand and ward off the illness. There is so much more that unites us than what separates us in this world, I have long believed, in relation to humans. Thank you, broken-legged baby fawn, for expanding my worldview last night. More unites you and I than separates us. After all, both our mothers enjoy gardens (though mine spends much more time caring for it than eating it.)
Side note: I am beginning to offer private sessions that pull from my vast array of tools (sound, Reiki, Kundalini, card readings, behavioral analysis, and crystals) to create more energetic balance and harmony. Curious? Reach out to email@example.com and let’s chat!
P.S. There are several magical public events happening in the next few weeks, including an intimate by donation meditation class in my home studio: follow the links below for more info!