0400, Wednesday morning, the wildlife at Hickory Head closed in. First, an armadillo, possum on the half shell that it is, decided to make a run for the fence a second too late. Jessica Elizabeth made a rookie mistake by heading right for the armored mammal and missed. The frantic destroyer of yards and raider of gardens made good his escape. After that, the dogs did not want to come in and eat. I have a Pilates class at 0600. It takes 45 minutes to get there. We’re on the clock here, my children.
I make it out of the house in good time, if not a little hurried. The driveway is nearly a half mile long and bordered by fences on either side. A cow pasture lies to the north, and an open field with giant live oaks to the south. Dead ahead, of course, is the paved road to my destination and path to stretching my core muscles and realizing, at this point, life is maintenance or decay.
But life goes on, an endless cycle. Even if species go extinct, life in some form will exist, even if it’s at a level only a microscope can detect. The lesson lost on humans is how to keep themselves from dying out when the process would involve the whole world if done right. Ahead of me in the headlights are a doe and a fawn just old enough to have misplaced its spots.
Mom Deer has led her offspring down the driveway for reasons I could not explain, and now I’m heading in their direction, and their salvation lies behind me.
Bambi is too young and inexperienced to jump the fence. He tries, fails, and panics. He sticks his head through the fence and desperately tries to force his body through. I cut the headlights and the engine off and count to twenty. I want to give Mom and Bambi time to settle down a bit. Worse case is they get on the hardtop and into the path of a trucker running an early morning route.
I’ve seen this before. A doe and a fawn come to a fence, and the fawn has never used its leaping ability and has to learn. That’s hard to do when danger is near, and Mom tries to push you to hurry. Years ago, a fawn trapped on my side of the fence in the front yard (the dogs stay fenced in the back) took several minutes to figure it out. Eventually, long of leg and fleet of hoof prevailed, and over the fence, the fawn sailed.
I turn the lights back on, and Mom is standing on the other side of the fence, Bambi still milling about. Suddenly, he coils, dropping his rear end just a bit, and clears the fence splendidly. Into the darkness, they both disappear. I give them a minute to get some distance, to feel safe, and to allow calmness to return.
As I crank up and pull away, some large night bird, an owl likely, flashes across my path, an instant in time where a feathered being is seen and then gone, giving me no time to hit the brakes or see what it was.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit.
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