Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dear Deer

I should preface this post by saying I am not an animal hater. Nor do I contribute to PETA and we don't own any pets, mostly because we have in the past and it is devastating when you or your children get so attached to a beloved pet and then it just disappears. You can say all you want about relationships making the ride worthwhile and all that, and it's not that I don't believe that, it is just that I prefer to form those bonds with people, who usually last quite a lot longer.

I know that after such a long absence I should post something noteworthy, but March madness has come early in my world. It might be that I've been getting up before the kids do to exercise and my sleep schedule has been disturbed. It might be that my new medication is derived from pigs (is there a mad pig's disease?) Maybe I'm stressed.

Whatever it is, my rate of productivity has diminished somewhat. Okay, that's not the case either. The honest truth is that I go to bed shortly after my children do so I can get an adequate amount of sleep before getting up to work out. That means the hour and a half to two hours I used to spend in the evening writing my thoughts and what I had been doing has been cut to between 1/2 hour to an hour, which sounds like ample time, but I'm wordy and when I think about it I get tired, so I go to bed.

Soon I will talk about important things and projects once again, but in the meantime there are a couple of things that have been on my mind and stand in the way of me writing yet another fascinating tutorial.

1. I think God knew what he was doing when he gave us eyebrows. There is this great cavity in one's skull that houses the eye and while the hole allows for an eyeball and free movement of said eyeball, the sudden stop in the bone of the skull creates a sharp edge that always seems to be getting smacked by something, splitting, and then leaving a scar. Fortunately there are nice hairy eyebrows in place to conceal such injuries. I'm not speaking from recent experience or anything, but eyebrows in general are a good idea.

2. If you know me, you had to know this was coming. To my knowledge I have never tasted venison; yet, even so, I know I hate deer. There was a newspaper article in a recent edition of the newspaper talking about how this year the number of deer killed in traffic incidents has doubled. And my response is how can there still be so many then? I'm not an animal hater, but there are a few things most educated individuals don't know about deer.

The first is that they are found hallowed in some of the pages of the nations finest literature. In The Princess Bride by William Goldman, he refers to the fire swamp and the ROUS's or Rodents Of Unusual Size. I cannot believe he means anything other than that the swamps were full of deer.

Let us examine the similarities. On the left we see the common mouse with its brood of young. On the right we see the mule deer, with either another deer or perhaps her young. Note the similarities in the coloring of the fur of both creatures. Though the mule deer has a much shorter tail, I think we can agree that the grayish-brown tinting allows both creatures to blend in to their environments.

Additionally, both the mouse and the "deer" have deep black eyes. Black, the color of evil. Black, the absence of color. Black, the color of the raven made famous by Edgar Allen Poe. Black like the heart of boy I once dated. (Not really; I hold no long term anmimosity toward anyone in my past, including that girl I so disliked because of the way she treated me in junior high)

Behaviorally, there are also similarities. When cornered or spotted, a mouse will dart about with no apparent sense of direction, only distance, and sometimes not that either. When one approaches a deer, either while walking through the hillsides or in a vehicle, the deer also seems to be lacking in any sense of safety or direction.

Mice have several toes on their paws. Deer have cloven hooves (bone enhanced paws), which means the hooves are in two parts. Cloven, like the tongue of Satan.

While I could go on for pages and pages about these similarities and continue to make very reasonable and valid comparisons, I'll jump to the next aspect.

Perhaps at one point in history, deer were majestic, right up their with lions and elk, but I think that as humans have moved into the ranges once roamed by the deer, the deer have been cut off from other deer, which leads to a great deal of inbreeding. Deer will be deer and a deer has to do what a deer has to do; the gene pool has ceased to have a lifeguard and therefore inbreeding has led to what we now find on the roadsides. I am convinced that not only do these family ties contribute to their inherent stupidity, but the link also creates a bond that allows the formation of  a "Deer Mafia" for lack of a better term.

Several years ago, as many as seven, I was driving down main street in my hometown. The speed limit was 35 mph, so I was traveling 35 mph. Suddenly a deer darted out into traffic. It surprised me, possibly even fascinated me to see the creature so close, and I watched it, hoping it wouldn't be hit in the other lane of oncoming traffic.  In watching the deer, my eyes strayed from the road long enough that his girlfriend, who might also have been his mother, sister, aunt or any combination of the three was following closely behind. As she was struck, she flipped across the hood of the car, breaking a headlight on her way, landed in the road, stood, shook her head a bit, and wandered off into the night where she and her lover could be concealed beneath the cloak of darkness, undiscovered by watchful parents. Though I never saw her again, she remembered. My scent was marked and the deer pack (who can really call them something as docile as a herd) has continued to follow me.

Months later, as I arrived home late at night, there were two or three of them, waiting, lurking in the darkness for me to get home. Somehow they knew I would be alone and so, biding their time, they stood beneath the apple tree, staring me down. The car cooled and became uncomfortably chill, but my husband wouldn't be home for another hour and no one was living in the upstairs apartment. As often happens with fear, I had to go to the bathroom and my anxiety made it worse. The front door was a mere five feet away, but might as well have been miles. Finally, a full bladder won out, so I climbed over the console, grabbed my belongings and darted from the passenger door to the front entry of the house, slamming the door behind me. The night went by without incident, but they knew for certain where I lived and I knew that I had been marked.

Since that time we have gotten rid of the car that struck one of their own and moved four times, yet every winter I see them. I can't help but count them. I don't know yet what the numbers mean, but I can't seem to stop myself from numbering them much like one might count sheep as they doze off. Maybe it is my way of subconsciously determining how great our forces need to be when the grand war finally rages. With all the recent violence in the world, ammunition is in short supply. They probably knew that would happen and have been preparing, increasing their numbers while appearing calm, relaxed, and unobtrusive.

And yet, they continue with their reindeer games, just like in the Rudolph song. One of their favorite games is dodge car, a lot like dodge ball, but with higher stakes. This year 40 have been thinned from their number because 40 lost the game. Yet I count them, dotting the hillside and there are still many, as many as 70 visible with more, I'm sure, crouching in the underbrush.

In the game, deer wait on the roadsides for a car to approach. The points earned depend on several factors; the speed of the vehicle, how close it is to the player before the player darts out, and the size of the vehicle being among those variables. The most points one can accumulate is the near-death experience. In this performance, the deer is struck by an oncoming vehicle, yet much like the deer hit multiple years ago, is not killed. There is no greater feat, though bonus points can be thrown in for damage to the vehicle.

We saw this very example a week or two ago. The night was foggy, the hour was late. My spouse and I had been to dinner with friends, commemorative of our anniversary. From seemingly out of nowhere (and we both had our eyes directed forward) there were four legs and an underbelly flying toward our windshield. You know on suspenseful movies where there are people driving along, unsuspecting of the vampires in the woods, or the zombies waiting to ambush them, and then suddenly the camera pans to the interior of the vehicle and a great something is plastered to the windshield, then there is another shot that shows the people in the vehicle screaming uncontrollably?  There is no other way to describe what it was like except to say that, much like the previous deer, this one, in her flailing condition, managed to embed clusters of her fur in the grill and dent the fender with her head and arching back before landing on the road, righting herself, shaking her brains around a bit, and darting off to her original destination. Full points.

So while I do not endorse cruelty to animals and am not really out to rid the world of deer, I cannot join those who shudder with excitement and joy at the very sight of them and feel like somehow the beauty of nature is right in midst. Mark my words, through the process of evolution we will begin to see deer with naturally pin-stripped fur who like to "case up the joint" and refer to leaders as "Don" or "Mustache Pete."

1 comment:

  1. You are an excellent writer. And you are SO weird. Lol. :)