Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a wildlife zoo.
Although all the birds’ nests are empty now, there seems to be a sudden extravagance of fawns in our neighborhood. There are four fawns in a small herd of seven does that wander our property, and we see others in the fields as we drive past. Two of our local fawns are tiny and liberally spotted. They look almost like newborns. The other two look somewhat older, although they still have their spots.
Yesterday afternoon, in the blast-furnace heat that is our summer, I rushed out the front door and before I took two steps, heard a mad scramble underneath the porch.
In the past we have had small does spend afternoons under our porch, in the relative cool of its shade, so I expected a doe to go bounding down the hill.
Instead a tiny fawn, perhaps 24-inches tall, stumbled out and stood knock-kneed right at the foot of our porch steps. All legs, it stood blinking in the sun and looking as stunned as I felt.
I wondered what to do. I needed to get to town, but I didn’t want to frighten the fawn, so I paused at the top of the stairs.
And before I could formulate a plan, our giant "house hare" came bounding around the corner of the porch. This big gray wild rabbit with its huge ears was almost as large as the fawn. When he saw me and the fawn, he halted, ears straight up (making him look three feet tall) and stood there blinking in the sun.
So there we were, all standing stock still looking at each other. What to do? I felt so happy in that moment of innocence and confusion that I wanted to laugh. But I didn’t.
And then the fawn turned and bounced across the drive and into the woods, his tiny hoofs clicking on the driveway gravel. He bounced so high he looked like he was riding a pogo stick. It’s true, Mule Deer have a high bouncing trot that helps them elude predators. It’s called "stotting."
The fawn’s departure gave me permission to walk down the steps and head for the garage. After opening the garage door and stepping inside, I glanced back. The hare was still sitting like a statue watching me. And what else should I see, but the little fawn’s twin, standing ever so still under the porch, watching to see what I’d do next.
I drove to town and ran my errands, returning about dusk. As I drove up our drive, I saw a bobcat run across in front of me and disappear in the weeds and woods.
By the time I parked the car and headed for the house, the bats were out doing their aerial acrobatics.
And after them, come the stars, bright as diamonds sparkling in the deep, dark undimmed by ambient light from anywhere.
This is the place we call home.