The Doe's Child

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Close encounters with a wild animal can leave us filled with wonder.

This time of year, I am reminded of one June day when I was working in my back yard. My neighbor drove in and jumped out of her car and yelled for me to come quickly. She was an elderly woman, frail, with emphysema, and breathlessly told me “her deer” was in trouble in her yard. She had been seeing a doe in her back yard every day and knew she had recently birthed a fawn. A stray dog was just there and had been chasing the deer around.  Frantically, the doe took off, diverting the dog away from her baby, which probably was tucked into the grass, hiding.

My neighbor was anxious about the deer and asked me to hurry to her place to check on the fawn.  It felt like an emergency situation and I gladly dropped everything and went to find out.  She was unable to walk far, so she stayed close to her house and indicated to me exactly where she saw the fawn. She thought the dog surely had found it when it chased the doe nearby.   

I walked all the way to the back part of the meadow and looked back at my neighbor to see if I had gone far enough.  She pointed wildly to the left, from where I stood. I turned and walked a few yards to a fence, and there lay the beautiful, perfect little fawn, instinctively curled into a still form.  Eyes opened and blinked once.  It seemed fine so I took a quick photo. I turned to leave and looked back at my neighbor lady to give a “thumb’s up”.  She pointed in the opposite direction and directly across from me, to the mother, who was stomping and snorting and flicking her tail.  I quickly left the area and she returned immediately to her baby.  

I love this poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay because it reminds me of the magical feeling of seeing a wild animal and looking it in the eye and wishing for more connection:

The Fawn

There it was I saw what I shall never forget
And never retrieve.
Monstrous and beautiful to human eyes, hard to
believe,
He lay, yet there he lay,
Asleep on the moss, his head on his polished cleft
small ebony hooves,
The child of the doe, the dappled child of the deer.

Surely his mother had never said, "Lie here
Till I return," so spotty and plain to see
On the green moss lay he.
His eyes had opened; he considered me.

I would have given more than I care to say
To thrifty ears, might I have had him for my friend
One moment only of that forest day:

Might I have had the acceptance, not the love
Of those clear eyes;
Might I have been for him in the bough above
Or the root beneath his forest bed,
A part of the forest, seen without surprise.

Was it alarm, or was it the wind of my fear lest he
depart
That jerked him to his jointy knees,
And sent him crashing off, leaping and stumbling
On his new legs, between the stems of the white
trees?