Monday, March 8, 2010

Deer Meet

I was born in Colorado but despite the lure of the mountains nearby, I was actually a city kid. All that time in Denver, I do not remember any undomesticated animal encounters other than an occasional mangy stray cat or insane blue jay. Only later when I lived in the completely urbanized hub-bub of Southern California, did I see more random wild animals like skunks, peacocks, coyotes, scorpions – well you get the idea?

As an adult, I had a friend from our office who moved to New Jersey. He would write back to the ‘gang’ and we would gather around at lunch and read his letters out loud. Even then, it struck me as odd, that a bunch of people in ties and dresses would gather to read mail together like GI’s in a war zone. I have to admit I liked everything about those memories but yes the letters – I liked them most of all.

The reason of course was the letters were a break from the normal operating procedure that we all call life. Once you have lived anywhere for more than a few months, you begin to compartmentalize your daily activities and seek efficiencies to simplify your workload. But those letters were from a far away place that none of us knew well. Yes I had been to the Garden State on business a couple of times, but hearing about someone whose parlance I knew well, and his experiences LIVING there were quite exciting.

More than once in these letters, my friend relayed that he woke up to deer grazing or cavorting in his back yard. I found that impossible to imagine? Deer are fairly large animals as compared to domesticated pets typically running around California yards. I had never seen such a large animal wandering free in public and had only heard stories of the odd-ball moose or polar bear nuisance terrorizing Nome, Alaska or impossibly cold places in the Arctic North. In the California territories, anything that dare climbed your fence or landed in your back yard was now technically YOURS. I think, except for the mentally challenged part of the animal kingdom – the opossum, ALL random animals observed this unspoken regional convention?

Well I had the good fortune to re-locate to Missouri (not kidding its been great!) over the last decade. We settled in and after a couple of months, what do you know, we started to see deer with some regularity. The deer were shy and rare beyond the enormous raccoon population (stories for another time), but they REALLY DO just walk around anywhere they want? Later we moved to a house which backs up to a small valley of cottonwood trees. Originally unbeknownst to us, the deer use those trees and OUR yards as freeways of sorts? Oh great! - I thought I left the freeways full of animals behind, in California?

So now I too am greeted nearly every day with 5 or 6 deer napping in the woods 20 yards away. In the afternoon, it is not unusual to have a dozen or more wander through the property, stopping for any foreign sounds or a snack on a branch. Needless to say I am a bit jaded in seeing prancing deer these days, My wife has difficulty keeping a garden or perennial flowers, as they all become a big buffet for our White tailed interlopers. I still reflexively grab a camera though when my deer friends are on the move. Who knows, I just might need to send a letter to my old office-mates at the Enquirer? But this time, unlike my big-foot sightings, I will have photographic proof of the deer I MEET! May I have the next dance?

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