The deer visited us today. It's been months, perhaps a whole year, since they've spent a day in our garden. They are a doe and her yearling fawn. We speculate that they feel safe here. There are low fences on either side of the house that allow them to easily leap over - sometimes late at night we hear their hooves clattering over the tops of these flimsy fences - but they are too high for an average dog to jump, and besides, all the well-behaved domesticated dogs in our neighborhood are always 'on leads.' We don't spend a lot of time in the garden, which has high fences on three sides, with the house and the two low gates forming the fourth, and we rarely work in the garden, so it doesn't smell strongly of humans, and the plants there are largely undisturbed, established and natural. There are several trees in the yard and thick shrubs that easily conceal the deer, and they retreat beneath the fir and hawthorne tree, behind the cecil brunner roses, at any unusual sound. It is delightful to see their dark-nosed, silver and gray faces with large ears and eyes peeping out from behind the leaves and boles, where they rest, hunkered down on the ground. Their slight, ghostly forms always seem fairy-like when they can be seen. If all is quiet, they come out of hiding and wander around the yard, sitting down at times, or nibbling on leaves and fallen apples. Sometimes they look at us looking back at them from our windows. We just barely peep at them, keeping most of ourselves hidden from view, and perhaps they think, 'such shy creatures.'
They only visit us for the day when dawn has caught them too far down the hill, in the midst of streets and traffic and neighborhoods. They spend the day in our garden, and when darkness falls again, they silently depart to roam about, foraging. And next time, hopefully, they will make it all the way back up to Tilden Park by starlight. We feel it is a gift to offer them a safe haven when they need to pass the daylight hours in hiding. We think this young doe is the fawn of a doe who spent many days here over a period of about five years. But we haven't seen her now for perhaps two years. She came alone for years, and seemed older, yet was last coming here with her fawn. Then two or three young deer came a couple of times, and now this young doe and her yearling have come.
A lot has happened since the last time the deer visited us. Not least of all, New Orleans has been drowned, and the Mississippi delta flooded. Friends have gone to help. We've all been given much to think over. Some of us have lost everything, or almost everything, and are in the eye of the uncertainty-storm that is life. The old folks valued stability, peace, prosperity. At least, our old folks did, and we also believed they might have something there. There can be a kind of placid beauty to 'being-in-the-moment' during a time of peace. There is a sort of intense, melancholy, haunting beauty to 'being-in-the-moment' in a time of tumult, as we watch beautiful people and animals and things and places we love being washed away, taken away, changed in such a way that even if they come back, they aren't going to be the same. The former is a way of appreciation, of nourishment, and as such, necessary. The latter is a way of mourning, of bitter-sweet longing, and of a truth that is also necessary.
My heart goes out to all those who have suffered loss or who are struggling through this ordeal of the Hurricane Katrina throughout the gulf coast.