Early last week I was a mile and a half into my commute to work when I looked up at the cows grazing in a pasture, and beyond them to a whitetail doe who stood at the edge of the field. Underneath her belly stood her tiny fawn. They were hundreds of feet from me, but I was thrilled all the same. In all the dozen-plus years we have lived here, I have seen only one brand spandy new fawn.
photo from Wings Over Alma
Yesterday I started out from home for work, headed down the hill road and rounded a curve to find the entire fourteen feet of road blocked by a piece of Town machinery digging out the ditches so that heavy rains won't wash out big ruts in the dirt track. It's been a long time since that kind of maintenance was done on this road, and the crew had plenty of washouts to fill in as they progressed.
Shift into reverse, twist around and get settled in a good comfortable position to see out the back window well enough to back up half a mile of twisty road, back into an opening into somebody's hayfield, turn around, go the other way. I passed our lower driveway, went around the curve, and in the road just where the upper driveway comes out... A doe, with the smallest fawn anybody has ever seen. The baby's legs were all at odd angles, like little weak sticks propping up his skinny little bony body.
Mama saw me. I could feel her conflict: Run! Baby! Run! Baby! In the end of course, after three or four seconds, she leapt into the field across from the driveway. Left on his own, the rickety little baby took three very unsteady steps toward the edge of the road, and slowly, slowly, slowly, folded himself up, joint by joint, until he was as flat as he could be. The last arrangement was the forelegs stretched out in front of him, his chin on top. The little space he covered with his body couldn't have measured eighteen inches in diameter.
I opened my window and stared at him for just a second or two. His big round dark eyes looked back at me and his whole body quivered with the faintest of tremors, from fear or sheer weakness. Husband think the baby must have been just barely dry from his birth.
I didn't want to cause any more disruption than I already had, so I went on, worrying all the rest of the day that some other driver hadn't seen him . . . that the Town mower blade had put an end to him . . . that Mama would forget where he was.
As I drove back up the road to home at the end of the day, I kept the car at a slow creep all along the road, checking for a spotty brown bony tiny deer, and saw nothing. No news is good news.
All is well.
By now the two babies are probably gamboling and frolicking. I won't see them again until their spots are almost gone, and never again so close as these two sightings.