Possumhaw: The wayward fawn

September 9, 2013 9:30:41 AM

Shannon Bardwell - [email protected]


" ... a great day is never leaving the driveway."  


-- Judith Jackson/Catfish Alley 




Susan sat in the chair facing the woods. "Look!" she said, "There's a deer, no bigger than a dog looking in the window." 


We turned to see a fawn, faintly spotted, staring in the window. I wiggled my fingers like I do at my deaf cat. The ears he hadn't grown into twitched. His legs were long and twig-like. We stared at each other, each curious about the other. 


Where was his mother? Was this the deer-child that had been eating my flowers? 


Recently I had moved plants around, mostly those in pots that had wintered in the greenhouse, and invariably by morning the plants were gone. I suspected a deer was coming up to the very steps of the house and yanking the plants from the ground. My bet was on this little fawn. Perhaps he had watched me many times through the window. Perhaps he was the fawn that had been lost by his mother. 


Awhile back at midday, a doe ran frantically around the yard. She circled the gardens, the greenhouse, and then ran back into the woods. Moments later she would make the same trek.  


Sam came in from bush-hogging, "Did you see that deer in the front yard?" 


"Yes," I told him. "I'm thinking she lost her fawn." 


We stood together at the window, watched and worried. I fixed coffee and moved to the back porch as she continued circling and circling for hours. She came within feet of me sitting there but didn't seem to care. She was a mother, intent in her search. She nosed through the underbrush.  


I desperately wanted to help, to search with her, but that was ridiculous. If a mother deer can't find her own fawn, how would I? I'd only interfere as humans are prone to do. I felt helpless and watched until dark. I prayed that she would find her fawn. A baby fawn in the dark night of the Prairie is not a good thing. 


And so I decided that this baby deer that was looking in our window was our lost fawn and that he had been nourishing himself by dining on my plants. There must be something about the fresh-turned soil as the fawn would pluck out the newly planted flower rather than an established plant.  


The fawn reminded me of myself. I love the feel, the look and the smell of the freshly-turned earth. It crumbles in your hand and looks rich and dark and almost good enough to eat. 


Shirley, my walking partner, was standing in the room where we saw the fawn looking in the window. As she started to leave she turned back and hollered, "Hey, there are the fawn and its mother. They are running across the field."  


Ah ... the deer-mother did find her fawn and he's been eating my flowers.

Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.