The strength we require

I was driving home from my writer’s group meeting just before dark last night. When I started down the private drive that runs in front of our house, I noticed a quick movement in the neighbor’s grass to my right. Two fawns were lying, curled up, in the grass near the drive and a buck stood above them. I immediately slowed the car to a crawl and crept to the far side of the drive so as not to threaten them. I made my way into the driveway that leads to our house at a snail’s pace while keeping my eyes on the buck and the  fawns, who had stood up. The three did not leave their spots. Even as I got into the house and peered out the window as the night darkened, I could still see them standing there. Then the other neighbor on our drive drove down a few minutes behind me and the deer fled into the woods.

It seemed like such a sad scene to me. The buck trying to bed the fawns down for a rest, and the three of them being threatened and running away. Where is the doe?

If there is anything I am learning from watching nature, as I have been privileged to do while living here in our house bordered by woods, it’s this: Ultimately we have to fend for ourselves. Others may try to help us, and give us a lending hand. But in this great design of life on this planet, mostly we are on our own. And conversely, although we may desire to, or even attempt to, help others, largely there is little we can do. Like us, mostly they are on their own with their trials, tribulations, pain, and suffering.

I would love to reunite the doe with her fawns, and maybe one day soon I’ll see them together again . . . or maybe she’s lying dead in a ditch somewhere. In any case there is absolutely nothing I can do.

You loyal readers know that I often struggle with my dad’s situation as he gradually loses his abilities to do almost everything because of his Alzheimer’s. I visit. I try to cheer him up. I try to give him something “fun” or interesting to do. But ultimately the hell he is living is his own battle to fight and endure. I can’t do it for him. I can’t even help him carry the load for any significant amount of time.

Like the people in the stories we see on the news who lost their homes to wildfires or tsunamis, who’ve lost their kids to abductors, who’ve lost their children or spouses or other friends and loved ones to an irrational act of violence in a movie theater, there’s very little I can do.

I can send money, prayers, good wishes. I can ladle soup in soup kitchens. I can do a little here and there. But I can’t take away someone else’s suffering. At best, I can only apply band-aids.

When it comes down to it, we are all on our own.

The strength we require ultimately has to be found within.

Two fawns and a buck

I looked out my kitchen window yesterday at dusk and spotted a deer and a fawn near the creek by our stone patio.

I’ve been watching for the doe with the injured leg, and thought this might be her. So I was also looking for the second fawn that Mark has been seeing with our doe.

The adult and the fawn wandered down the creek bank (and are visible in the background) when this little frisky guy showed up. This fawn appears to be a bit larger than the other one, and much more energetic. I would bet 10 bucks, no pun intended, that this is the little fawn I saw strolling alone down our drive last month.

Here was the surprise. The adult was a buck, not our doe. I was unsettled by this and worried that something has happened to our lame doe. I googled buck and fawns to see if the father sometimes takes care of the babies to give the mother a break, but couldn’t find any information. In fact, I found the opposite: bucks usually do not hang around the does and fawns. What about Bambi? His father stayed in the picture when Bambi’s mother died, didn’t he?

I don’t know if this is the fawns’ father or Uncle Dan, but he clearly was in charge of the fawns for the evening.

I was trying to take good photos through the kitchen window, using my 300mm lens and a high ISO because of the low light conditions. But the fawns were frolicking all around like two young children at a park in the early spring. Most of the pictures of them are a blur of brown.

This little one, trying to keep up with her brother, spun around this tree, miscalculating a bit. She ran right into it and then fell down. When she stood back up she didn’t move for a while. I think she was stunned.

This is completely endearing:  the buck, seeing what happened, walked over to the little fawn, undoubtedly to make sure she was okay.

I just love watching these animals interact.

Finally, a moment when all three are standing still.

And another, although the buck is moving his head to prune our plants. Because of his apparent preference for this delicacy I think he may be the buck I saw several weeks ago. I sure hope the mother of these two little darlings is okay.

I got out my iPhone and started taking a video. The frisky little guy runs off. The little follower chases after. The big buck watches where they go, thinks,”Dang, they’re not coming back,” and lopes after them.

See more deer posts here.

Three deer and an apple — a drama

The other morning I witnessed three deer munching on our front landscaping. Over the two years we’ve lived here we’ve seen this same doe come through our yard with her fawns—each year, a new set of two fawns. We’ve seen infant fawns, child fawns, and full-grown fawns or deer. Once, much to our dismay and outright terror actually, the two fawns lured Arthur out of his electric fence and into the woods to play. Of course, they had long since ditched him as they ran away, leaving him befuddled, scared, and frozen in place within sight in the woods.

I forgave the fawns. They almost seem like pets. I’ve been wanting to leave some apples out for these deer as a special treat. So after seeing them eating our bushes, I bought some apples and put three in the bushes. This is what I saw later in that afternoon. (As you know, the deer vocabulary is quite limited, but you’ll get the idea.)

The first deer (one of the fawns) finds the apple.

Jackpot! she thinks to herself.

The doe sees her.

Hummm, what has she found now?

But movement is detected in the house, or perhaps a little flash goes off.  All three deer look up and freeze.

What is going on in there?

I’m not worried about it, the fawn thinks. This is good.

That apple’s looking pretty good, the doe thinks.

I’m going to get a taste of that.

Move over.


Hey, I found that apple, the fawn says.

What is going on over there? the doe wonders.

The second fawn gets curious and comes over to see what is so interesting.

Hey guys, the second fawn says. Wazzup?

I get some too, he says.

You’re hogging it, the doe says.

Hey, it’s my turn he says.

I really wish I knew what was going on over there, the doe thinks.

Back off, the fawn says. You’ve had your share.

Ummm. That’s tasty, the doe says.

The fawn sees his chance, snags the apple and backs away with it. He finishes it off.

That’s really starting to get annoying, the doe thinks.

Now that the apple is gone. The deer go back to the bushes. They don’t find the other two apples I left closer to the house.

Why do you keep doing that to us? the doe wonders.

Or maybe she’s thinking, was it you that gave us the apple?

The three deer leave by the side yard. I don’t know what they said after that. I couldn’t hear them anymore.

Happy birthday, Bambi — part 1

There were two deer in our yard this morning. I rarely get photos of the deer because I am usually too enthralled watching their graceful stealth to run and get my camera.

On this very day last year, I was taking Arthur for a walk early in the morning when I noticed something brown in my neighbor’s grass. I didn’t recognize the shape at first. Is that a lost animal, curled up from last night? I wondered.

Baby deer, or fawn, in neighbor's yard

Arthur and I cautiously moved closer and I saw what was clearly was an ear, pop up from the otherwise circular shape. That is an animal, I thought. But what kind of animal? It didn’t really look like a cat or dog.

As I got close, the animal put its head back down and lie very still, a self-preservation instinct, I suppose.

Close up of fawn in neighbor's yard

It was a baby deer.

I ran back to the house with Arthur and grabbed my camera. How often do you get to take a photo of an infant fawn? We returned, again cautiously, I didn’t want to scare the baby and have him run away somewhere. I used a telephoto lens so I wouldn’t have to get too close.

I could see that the grass around the fawn was matted down from the weight of a larger animal, but I didn’t know where the mother was or if she’d be back.

Fawn has blue eyes

I took a few pictures and then started to get worried about the little deer. Would the mother be back? Would he be okay until she returned? Was there something I should do?

Thank goodness for the internet. I returned home and found out in short order that mother deer often leave their newborn fawns to go get food. I was instructed to leave it be. The doe would be back.

Through the next few hours I kept an eye out for the tiny deer that I could see from my front walk. But I wasn’t watching when I heard Arthur barking and recognized his announcement of a “deer!”. I hurried to the kitchen door and was able to catch a shot of the mother reuniting with the baby. I only wish I had taken video, because it was one of the cutest natural interactions I had ever witnessed between wild animals.

Doe returns to fawn

By the time I got to the window, the baby was already up on four legs and was prancing around its mother. It looked so happy to see her. I’ll never forget it.

Doe with fawn

She just looked exhausted. She stood for a few minutes while the baby pranced around her, and then slowly walked into the woods with the baby following close behind her.

Doe walks into woods with fawn

Important Update !!!

(8:45 a.m.) Look what I just saw out of my kitchen window today. . .

Sorry about the photo quality. When I first looked at the images, they were completely black because of low light in the woods. My heart sank that I’d lost the images. I photoshopped them and was able to make out these poor-quality images. Here’s a closer view.

Now I have to worry today about the little deer walking alone in the woods. Oh my gosh. I’ve never seen anything so precious. Hurry back mother.