The deer turned because I gasped, so I whispered up the stairs for the children to come down — quickly and quietly — to see something awesome. These are not children who embrace direct orders, but damn if they didn’t tiptoe down the stairs, fast, and press their noses against the screen, quietly. The mother deer meandered around the yard, followed haphazardly by the fawn, and then the mother started across the road followed — sort of — by the fawn, which seemed to have trouble keeping its balance.
I could see where the morning might go — a car could careen around the curve and give Granny an opportunity to talk about the circle of life — so I turned to hustle the children upstairs — nothing to see here! — when one of them cried out. The fawn had hobbled onto the road and curled up on its haunches. On the road! In the middle of it, as a matter of fact! With the mother halfway up the hill and turned back, looking at her baby!
Sometimes I hate nature.
With a quick admonition that the twins stay inside, I headed out, but a nice lady in a fancy black car stopped and beat me to the fawn.
“Do you think my scent will keep the mother away?” she called over to me, and I said no, that the mother was just up the hill, so she bent down to pick up the fawn, which began kicking, which I took as a good sign.
It didn’t take two of us to lift the fawn, so I stood directing traffic, which wasn’t very taxing because everyone wanted to stop and watch the woman’s progress up the hill with the squirming fawn. I could see the mother at the crest, maybe 50 feet away.
The woman pushed her way through a thicket and set the fawn down in a little clearing, where her mother could easily shepherd the fawn the rest of the way.
It was a steep hill, and the woman started to stumble as she neared the bottom, but I caught her. I’d been feeling a little worthless so I almost appreciated her near-tumble. She asked if I thought there was poison ivy on the slope, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her she’d just waded through an ankle-high patch of it. We shook hands — I’m not sure why, though I guess that’s what you do when you share a Nature Moment — and she went on her way.
Back inside, the twins were beside themselves. Would the baby be alright? Was the mommy coming back? Could they pet it?
I answered yes to three of those questions and without thinking asked if they’d seen the mommy come back to get her baby. Why, she’d scampered right down the hill to get the fawn. Maybe, I said, they couldn’t see because the trees were in the way, but Granny saw it. They asked if she kissed her baby, and I said of course she did! Just like your mommy kisses you!
Satisfied, they went back up the stairs to play, and I went to make them a snack and only later thought how easily that lie had come — no forethought, no planning, just a beautiful ending to a beautiful story.
The twins went home and the next day I climbed the hill. There was no fawn. So maybe I didn’t lie. Maybe the mommy really did come back, that she did just as I told the twins she would do — took her baby home and cuddled.