Posts made in January, 2010

A Minor Occurrence

Posted by on Jan 23, 2010 in All things natural, Angst, anger, anarchy, Death and renewal | 0 comments

It seems indecent to post her picture here, this wild thing, mute and still in death. I do not know if she died from hunger or, struck by a car on the road, she limped here to rest. Before I found her I had followed the story her hoofs made in the deep snow, crossing back and forth, x and o, circle, and around again. I saw where she had scraped the snow back searching for food by the tree, and there a branch shows her teeth marks. When I am almost to the edge of the water the unexpected smooth brown fur startles me. I freeze in place and watch her, waiting for an explosion of motion when she realizes I have found her sleeping place. As I stare at her belly for a tell tale sign of breath I walk back in my mind through my noisy passage to this spot. No living deer would be within miles of the clumsy ape that rules this forest, my feet like thunderclaps across the still landscape. As minutes pass and she stays there, motionless, I notice how the snow covers her front hoof, how the crystal ice on her rough coat catches the sun and clothes her in precious gems like a woodland fairy. Back inside my warm house I think back to reading a story to my eldest son from an old book that had belonged to his great aunt, Deer In the Snow, by Miriam Schlein. It was an idyllic tale of young children who lived with their parent in the woods where game was abundant. They notice three deer that seem to be hungry and the father goes to the feed store and buys oats and alfalfa so the children can keep them nourished all winter. The book was written in 1956, long before deer suffered from overpopulation. In fact in the 1930’s the white tailed deer came close to extinction in the US. It is difficult to imagine today as recent estimates put the deer population at around 30 million, enough to qualify as a nuisance in suburban and even smaller urban areas. Yet here I am looking at the picture of one fallen deer and I cannot help feeling sad. I suppose if I had known she was hungry I would have tried to feed her, even realizing it would be a stupid thing to do. It’s just that there is a difference in the millions of deer that trample down our suburban flower beds or throw themselves in the paths of cars and this one dead helpless creature lying nestled in the snow, glittering in the sun, under a sky as blue as cornflowers. It is always thus when we are directly confronted with natural selection. I suppose in that stopped clock way Joseph Stalin was correct when he stated that, “A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” Today under my tree, by my lake, during my watch, a lovely creature breathed her last breath, hungry, cold, and alone.

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