Out of sorts lately. No particular reason other than I am around just too many people sometimes. It’s been busy at work and I have a lot of extra jobs to do now. All this nonstop people contact leaves me feeling dry and picky.
So I went for a walk this morning despite the growing heat and humidity. Took the woods route to Skylands, NJ state botanical gardens. After emerging from the little path that winds behind the houses, I turned left to follow the road to the main gardens.
Not wanting to go into the public garden areas (too many people) I bore right instead, past the fields where you can see wild turkeys in winter. The road ran straight before me. On either side were a line of beech trees creating an emerald canopy of shade, making me feel like a woodland bride about to step onto the red carpet. My weariness slipped away.
A doe and her fawn were standing near the edge of the road at the far end. As a jogger came pumping up the hill from beyond them, the doe turned and bolted, flashing her white tail over her back as her fawn scampered behind, flicking her own banner in imitation of her mother’s warning. They floated over the high grass in great leaps and bounds as they headed for the deep woods beyond the field
I glanced back at the jogger, and then saw another fawn still standing at attention where the doe had been. It was watching the bouncing man come closer, closer, closer. Why wasn’t it running away? Was something wrong with it? Was it a twin of the one I just saw running away?
Suddenly, it bolted along the track the other two had taken. The man lumbered along, smiled “Good morning,” to me as he passed. “And good morning to you,” I returned.
The fawn was now near the woods line. I stopped to look at it. Suddenly, it bolted straight at me. Mary Oliver’s story about a fawn that had once approached her flashed through my mind. It would not be a good thing for this creature to associate people with kindness.
The fawn galloped toward me, bleating, as if asking if I was its mother. It ran within ten feet of where I was standing, then veered off across the road to the field on the other side, turned around, dug its heels into the damp earth and pushed itself flat out in a running tear that brought it back over the field where its mother had been five minutes before. It whirled again and came leaping back toward me once more.
Where was the mother? Couldn’t she hear her baby cry? Her hearing was better than mine; why didn’t she come?
The fawn ran at me again but this time, I clapped my hands to frighten it away from my kind. It stopped and looked at me. Innocence itself was staring me in the face. For a full moment, nothing but this young deer and I existed. It was one of those amazing instants in time when the world surprises itself by staring into the eyes of another. I felt its young exuberance, its fear, its curiosity, its wonder.
What did the fawn see?
The world remembered itself quickly enough. The fawn gathered itself on its haunches and leaped straight into the air, white tail flag flashing. It hardly landed when it leaped again and again, propelling itself into the woods this time, out of my sight but not out of my heart.
Good luck, I whispered. May the Light go with you.