For the past two months, a deer has been grazing placidly alongside the sheep in a neighboring field. When she first appeared, I thought it was a fluke, a lovely four-legged passerby who would vanish within days.
But she’s still there, and she’s gone from being “the little doe in Toby’s field” to “Little Doe.” The sheep are rarely abroad in this bitter depth of winter, but Little Doe is almost always in her field, regally picking her way through the snow, claiming the land for her own.
I don’t know why she’s still alive. She made no effort to hide herself during hunting season, when Amish boys in their orange vests wandered the landscape with their rifles. Maybe the family who owns the field raised her from a fawn and became too fond of her to kill her? Maybe they were worried about shooting so close to the sheep? Or–probably more likely–maybe they’re giving her the run of the field the same way the curious young steers have the run of their fields, grazing happily until one day they become dinner.
In the harsh isolation of winter, I haven’t been able to ask anyone from the family–any chance encounters consist of hasty waves as we scuttle from warmth to warmth. My Amish neighbors are good people, but I doubt they have much room for sentimentality about perfectly edible animals, no matter how pretty. As a result, I’m pessimistic about Little Doe’s long term chances.
Little Doe and I stare at each other almost every day, sometimes from far across the field, sometimes from just across the fence. I feel like I should yell, flail, try to instill a healthy fear of humans in her. But then, would it even work? She’d probably give me a contemptuous flick of her white tail and stalk away indignantly. And who am I to drive food away from a family who may need it?
So I remain silent and find stillness in the eyes of this wild thing. Blood may flow in the future, but it’s yet to come: I remain in the white-snowed tranquility of Now.