Listen to nature’s voice, it contains treasures for you. —Huron Tribe proverb
It was early December 2016 when we were hit with snow, three snowstorms in two weeks that turned into a series of snowstorms totaling eight to-date. Snow in the mountain foothills isn’t unusual, but eight snowstorms in two months down to sea level, is. One moment we were enjoying mild, sun-filled days, and the next, we were caught up in two Polar Expresses that brought more than a foot of snow, single-digit wind chills, a blizzard, and later, dreaded freezing rain. If that wasn’t enough, rain on snow turned it all to white cement. The storms just keep coming.
The first snow fell December 4 that continued on and off for sixteen more days. I love the snow, especially those first flakes of the season. They are magical, and tend to bring out the best in people. The snow also brings out the deer; this season, two black-tailed does, a mother and yearling. I call them Fern and Fawna.
It was among the firs, cedars, and sword ferns that an ear twitched, it was Fern. Camouflaged among brown patches of earth between lumps of snow, was Fawna, the yearling. I put on my sweater, grabbed my Nikon D7200 (a birthday gift from my husband) and quietly stepped outdoors. I wasn’t sure how the deer would react. I haven’t seen Fern since last summer, and would be meeting the yearling for the first time.
With their acute awareness, I was spotted at once! Fern threw me a glance, and resumed browsing. Fawna, was more interested. She raised her head and pivoted her big ears forward. What a beauty! Both deer looked healthy. Fawna watched my every move. I broke the silence between us, speaking softly, reassuring her that I meant her no harm. That seemed to calm her. She twitched her ears, and wagged her tail, and munched on wilted blackberry leaves. The ice was broken. We were off to a good start!
I shared an apple with them, and Fawna took such a liking to the sweet treat that she gave her mother several kicks to the face. Poor Fern, she didn’t even argue and stepped aside to nibble salal leaves. Obviously hungry, we made a quick trip to the market, returning with a box of mixed produce (their shelf life having expired) and emptied it onto the ground with all the wonderful things that deer love.
For Christmas, we treated the girls to a fifty-pound sack of cracked corn that has doubled to 100 pounds each month. We’re happy to have them. They make the most delightful company, and make the winter much brighter. During their visits, they browse the forest, keeping it healthy and balanced with natural pruning, and eradicate invasive plants. While some might consider them pests, I consider them a blessing for this forest would be a sad and lonely place without them. As I conclude this post, Fern and Fawna have just finished their afternoon meal. They have bedded down outside my window on South Bank where they will bask in winter sunlight until dusk when it is time to feed again.
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