A couple of mornings ago, I caught an interloper in my back yard. I knew who she was. I had seen her before and could easily identify her by the two notches in her right ear.
I wrote about this deer, who rested in our yard for a couple of mornings while her twin fawns napped in the weeds of the adjacent vacant lot. I've seen deer around town fairly often since then, but never have I been sure that I saw this particular doe and her fawns, though I've often wondered how they fared during the winter.
I knew that some deer were jumping our fence to eat last year's crabapples. All the wildlife, deer, squirrels, and birds alike, love to eat the little, soft, dried-up, fallen fruits. They've eaten almost all of them, mostly during the night or in our absence, leaving their droppings as evidence of their visits.
There are a few crabapples left to tempt a deer. Also tempted were the deer on the outside of the fence. There were three others in the vacant lot next door. One of them, a fairly large doe, was peacefully munching weeds. The other two smaller does were pacing around our fenceline. I could clearly see the segmented motion of two deer shapes through the cracks between our old fence boards. Watching the brief flashes of their shadows as they walked around, trying to decide what to do, was like watching an old, jerky, silent movie. It was clear that they knew mom was eating crabapples and they wanted some too, or perhaps they were just nervous being separated from their mother.
Since I figured that they would be leaving soon anyway, I thought I'd see what they would do if I went outside. Neither the noise of the door opening or my appearance spooked them enough to cause them to leave.
They simply stood still and stared at me. It was a standoff. I approached ever closer, but they never moved. I waved my ams and said "Shoo!". Nothing. Perhaps they thought I had food for them. A few more steps and I began to wonder if the doe would be motivated to protect her nearly-grown yearling daughter. Deciding that getting too close might not be a good idea, I backed off and went inside.
This simple drama of the two young does who did not want to be separated from their mother, the one who dared the jump to be with mom, but then hesitated to follow her back out, the one who waited nervously for mom to return, and mom's protective watchfulness while trying to get a bite to eat, seemed so familar. Whether animal or human, the tie between mother and child is obvious.
Happy Mother's Day!