For many years, our yard has served as a rest area for a family of deer. Every morning they dine here on the grass and leaves, do their business, and nap before moving along to a different spot in the neighborhood. They gaze at me quizzically when I try to scare them off. I swear, they think their names are on the deed to the property.
They were only three when they arrived here one spring, but have since grown to seven, a formidable number of wild animals to have in one’s yard when one doesn’t live in the outback. They ravage my garden and have made me Lyme-phobic. Still, they are – invited or not -- a constant in our suburban lives.
On a recent morning, I stared out the window while the coffee brewed and sensed instantly that something was missing. It took a while to figure out that it was the deer. I scanned the yard. They were not beneath the swing set, their usual hangout, nor were they near the shed, where they like to nosh on the brittle weeds.
It’s not that I missed them, but their absence from our landscape didn’t feel right. The Jewish mother in me even felt a twinge of jealously: Is it possible they’d found better snacks elsewhere? For a moment, I worried they’d met the tragic end I secretly wished for them when they first snatched possession of the yard from my boys.
I was relieved to notice them sprawled out about 15 feet from the house, resting on the soft layer of snow that had fallen in the night. Still, silent, like figures in a diorama. Their fur, Papa Deer’s antlers, and all seven pairs of pert white ears faded from view, camouflaged behind bare branches of shrubbery until their bulging eyes gave them away.
I heard a familiar bark. Gadget, our friends’ enthusiastic dog, was out for his pre-dawn stroll. Lucky guy, his animal instincts pointed him directly to where the deer were. He was ready to go -- to play, to run, to dislocate them from their perch -- but they weren’t giving him the time of day. Excited by the sudden appearance of something else and the breakfast awaiting him at home, Gadget moved on.
But I couldn’t get past the moment I thought the deer had disappeared. They’ve driven me nuts for nearly a decade. I curse them under my breath every time I pick up their droppings and assess their damage to my garden. Then I don’t see them one morning and decide something is amiss in the universe?
It took a while to own up to it, though I knew all along why it bothered me. I often struggle when faced with changes that affect the backdrop to my day-to-day. I want the comfort of what I love or at the very least, what I know, even if that means deer in my yard.
I’m not asking to stop time, or to go back in it, though I admit I sometimes wish I had the power to do so. For starters, I’d relive the days when Petak’s had a sweet potato knish on its menu. And I do believe that change can also be good. I’ll take world peace. I’ll take a raise. I’ll take a smaller dress size. Bring on more happy milestone moments, like weddings and births.
Otherwise, I’d prefer if things stayed put so that I don’t spend time questioning why they didn’t. I’d like my boys to stay little, though they already aren’t. I don’t want to get older or greyer, but when I do, I want my husband to continue looking at me the loving way he does, even when I’ve grown all wrinkly like a dried up apple at the bottom of the fruit bowl.
I’m just saying that it would be nice if there were more constants, more immovable bits on our personal horizons to spare us from disappointment and the need to readjust our range of vision.
I was relieved to discover that someone was listening to me. The deer were back in their usual spot the next morning. If they move again, I’ll fetch Inspector Gadget to find them for me.