Last night I dreamed that a herd of starving deer jumped over the deer fence and devoured nearly all the plants in the garden. I was relieved when I looked out the window this morning and saw that the redbud tree was still there, innocently spreading limbs displaying heart-shaped leaves at deer's eye level. I used to regularly have nightmares about hungry deer until we finally broke down two years ago and had a deer fence installed around the back garden. Deer are rampant in the neighborhood - as I write this, I hear a tell-tale crunching in the leaves outside the dining room window as two does pass through the yard.
But like most gardeners, I have my contradictions. I enjoy having wildlife and native plants in my backyard, but not the deer that eat the native plants. And every summer in July, I contradict all my railings against deer and once again find that fawns are just too darn cute. Today my husband called me down from the office when he saw two fawns and a doe outside the kitchen window.
I stayed behind the glass door and took a few photos. Then I got bolder and slowly opened the door. The doe and fawns moved a few feet further away, but then stopped and looked back at me with their big liquid eyes. I moved very slowly down the steps, stopping often, so the deer wouldn't startle. This would not normally be necessary. The does in our neighborhood are so tame that I can run toward them full speed, shouting and with arms waving, and get no response but a calm stare until I'm practically close enough to tackle them. But I figured the doe would startle more easily now that she has fawns.
After a few minutes, the fawn in the foreground in the photo above became curious about the human who was standing frozen in the leaves with a black box held to her face. She started moving toward me. It warmed my heart to have this adorable fawn show such trust and curiosity in me. I have been reading about St. Francis and his conviction that all creatures are our brothers and sisters. As I watched the fawn slowly walk toward me, I felt a sense of kinship.
Still, I don't regret the deer fence. Deer are much more of a joy to watch in the neighbor's yard!