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Hiding in the woods indeed

I watched this doe for a good while yesterday. She couldn’t see me. I was at a window facing the orchard gate. She skulked out of the woods and made for the nearest patch of clover. Then she tore at the clover as though she was starving.

Though her ribs were slightly visible, I don’t think she was eating so fast because she was starving. It’s a lush summer; there is plenty of food. Rather, she was trying to pound down a good meal of clover before she skulked back into the cover of the woods. There’s no clover in the woods! She has to venture out for it. I’m almost certain that she has a fawn. Her udder is visible in the photo. She probably left the fawn in hiding in the woods, though I often see does and fawns in the yard.

I felt sorry for her. She’s not a particularly pretty deer. If I were a poet, I’d have written her a little poem. I’d have told her: Take your time. Eat all the clover you want. Don’t be so jumpy. No one will shoot you here. You and your little one can relax for a while. Help yourself to the other stuff, but mightn’t you leave the day lilies alone?

Some of the local menfolk who hunt joke about why the deer like this place so much. Not only is there good food here, they feel safer here (though clearly they never feel truly safe). “They know,” the hunters say.

Then as the poem that I didn’t write wound back on me, I saw into the metaphor. I’m hiding in the woods, too, just like she is. I skulk out of the cover of the woods sometimes, too, when I don’t have any choice. We’ve lost the Supreme Court. It was stolen. The right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos has urged right-wing vigilantes to start gunning down journalists. Every day, we find ourselves farther down the slippery slope toward fascism. Pundits urge us to be “civil,” even as savages double down on the work of destroying the American democracy.

But the metaphor doesn’t hold. Deer have only one defense: to run and hide. We are not deer. We have other options. And I am not feeling civil.


Here’s one of the little scamps who helped eat my day lilies, standing in the now-bloomless day lily patch. The photo was taken from an upstairs, front-facing window.

There is a grove of trees between the house and road, and the deer families spend a lot of time there. I think this is because the grove is mostly open on all sides, and thus any predators would have to cross open space to get into the grove.


  1. frigast wrote:

    But you grew the day lilies for the deers, right ??
    They love you for that 🙂
    The last one is darker and spotted (the male ??), whereas the first one – the female – is light brown.

    Monday, July 2, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink
  2. Henry wrote:

    Wow, I had to enlarge the photo before I could make out the fawn…pretty neat

    Thursday, July 5, 2018 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

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