Magnetic North: Mommie Deer-est and Other Worries

White-tailed deer fawn - photo by Vicki Biggs-Anderson
White-tailed deer fawn - photo by Vicki Biggs-Anderson

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Welcome back to Magnetic North, where a day-glo yellow carpet of fragrant dandelion blossoms surrounds our farm - a joyous sight for this reformed dandy destroyer. 

After leaving the city and moving north I found recipes for both greens AND blossoms, the latter being deep fried and sugared.  Heaven!  But in the main, I just devour our dandelions with my eyes, starved for color as we all are after a winter that outstayed its welcome.

Returning flora and fauna are a major source of conversation, joy and sometimes angst in these parts.  On our little plot of earth, we have the returning waterfowl - several pairs of mallards and a Canada goose we raised a few years back.  She now hangs out around our pond with her mate.  If they have a nest tucked away in the willow swamp, Gramma Goose will keep you posted on the outcome.

The two fat woodchucks living under our tool shed/root cellar are busily grazing on sweet new grass and growing fatter by the hour. Missus Chuck takes her ease on a cedar log baskiing in the sun.  Meanwhile the Mister finds choice tidbits in the grass and works feverishly perfecting the many tunnels into and out of their two story critter condo.

None of my domestic animals are expecting this year, so I’ve been pining away for some kind of baby to fuss over.  And this morning, the Cosmos came across.  A reminder to be careful what I pine for.

Just off our deck, not twenty feet from the house, there lies a newborn fawn in a clump of meadow grass.  Alone.  I saw her just as she was curling up for a snooze, having been left there to rest while her mother went off to do who knows WHAT!

I am outraged.  Even though I have read that deer do this.  That the newborns are routinely left to sleep while the mother gads about. That the babies are without scent, thereby protected from detection.  That is, unless the fawn moves around too much - or is RESCUED unnecessarily by some control freak.  Not that I would do such a thing.  I would not.

I want to.  But I would not.  My senior dairy goat is in milk now even though she has no kid.  She just eats so much grass when it comes up that she bags up as if a kid or two was nursing regularly.  Maybe, the fawn could nurse on the goat.  Maybe the goat would accept the fawn.  Maybe pigs will fly.

No, I will not intervene.  Nature is this fawn’s momma and She will do with the little one as she will.  I’m fine with that.  But I’ll just stay here by the window until the mother comes back.  There is an eighty percent chance of rain today, so doubtless she’ll come back before the deluge.  Deer can tell when it’s going to rain, can’t they?

Oh, why did I have to look out the window just in time to see that sweet little spotted body, no bigger than a rabbit on stilts, the tiny nearly transluscent ears, and those eyes!  Two shining black pools of neediness?

I forgot that babies bring both joy and free-floating anxiety with them.  And waiting for this little one to be safe with her mom again brings back so many, many memories of other critter babes - some who had the happiest of outcomes and others who put yet another crack in my heart.

Spring always seems to bring equal measures of joyous returns and sorrowful losses.  This year, the marsh Marigolds clog every moist ditch.  But my much loved crimson red rugosa rose bush will not cover the south wall of the chicken coop with blossoms this summer - winter stole it from me.  The Jack in the Pulpits back in our woods by a crumbling footbridge are returned, however.  Six years ago, another harsh winter - one with more cold than snow - stole them away.  Stole them forever, I thought.  Being wrong about such things makes my day.

And so I go around the meadow and over the trails, cataloging the missing, the saved, the downed and broken and the unexpected.  Paul often says he likes to walk in the woods with me because I notice everything.  An exaggeration, but close to the truth.  It’s a gift.  And a curse.

Well, today’s burden, watching this fawn slumber in the grass, motherless it seems, is still upon me.  Mommy Deer-est is nowhere to be seen.  And the rain clouds are moving in fast.  They say it could really pour.  In which case any goose nest in that willow swamp might easily be washed away and the woodchuck condo is basically sited on an intermittent waterfall...so far joy is losing out to anxiety in this part of the woods.

Next week, I’m sure the news will be way different.  I hope.

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