When I receive a gift I am acutely conscious of both the gift and the giver, and gratitude spreads through me. This gratitude coalesces into a wish to give something back. I long to please my giver, endow that generous benefactor with something that will offer comfort, nourishment, and delight equal to what I’ve received. When my benefactor is a place rather than a person, however, my role as recipient is less direct. I’m someone who has inadvertently stepped beneath a stream of beneficence not specifically intended for me but suddenly pouring all over me. If I wished to offer thanks, how would I do so? Does a place have consciousness, such that it can receive gratitude for what it has given just by being itself?
~ Trebbe Johnson
Beauty is the antidote to grief and despair, and it is the one sure thing I can bring to bear when I confront a place that has fallen on hard times.
~ Trebbe Johnson
The quotes are from a wonderful article that was originally published in Orion Magazine and recently shared by DailyGood.org. You can find the article here.
I went out for a walk last Tuesday about an hour before sunset. My feet took me over to the pond where a Great Blue Heron was fishing for his dinner. He flew off as soon as I got near the pond, squawking in that obnoxious way that herons squawk. They always sound pissed off, as if to say, “How dare you interrupt me while I’m here?”
I sat down on the bench by the pond, settling in to meditate or just sit and be which is, I suppose, the same as meditating. It was low tide. We’ve been having very low tides lately, good for mudlarking if you’re into such things. As I sat there looking straight across the water, I noticed something odd or out of place in the mud on the bank. I had my camera with me, big lens on, so I zoomed in to see what was there. I think I noticed the movement about the same time that I saw what it was. A young buck was lying there, weaving his head around, trying to look at me. It didn’t register at first that he might be sick although I did think it weird that he was napping by the pond.
I took several photos and it was in doing that I realized he could barely lift his head to look at me. No wonder he hadn’t run off. I’ll show you the least sad of the photos I took (it’s sad, but not as sad as some of the others):
I called M over. He was out and about with the wheelbarrow doing the gods know what. Moving things from here to there, presumably. We agreed that there was something wrong. M got our binoculars, had a good look at the buck, and called the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR). There are a couple of diseases that white-tailed deer can get that are worrisome, including Chronic Wasting Disease (which is the deer version of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE — or Mad Cow Disease). They are worrisome not because we could catch it from the deer (we could if we ate it, I suppose), but because it can run through the deer population.
Wade, from the DNR, suggested we shoot the deer as a form of mercy/euthanasia. Unfortunately, we do not have ammunition for our gun. M went to buy some just before the election and the stores were sold out. We could have called our neighbor, Lloyd, and asked him to do it, but we were not entirely sure the deer wouldn’t recover. In hindsight, I think we were being overly optimistic, wanting him to recover. We decided to wait until morning.
On Wednesday morning, we found that he had died. M sent a text off to DNR Wade who had indicated the day before that he would like to come and get a sample from the deer if/when he died to determine what had made him sick. Wade showed up here about an hour later. M was at work so I got the honor of going out with Wade to show him where the buck was and to discuss what I had seen in terms of his behavior. It was high tide and I was afraid we might not be able to find the deer. High tide, like low tide, has been more than usual. We got lucky and Wade spotted the deer’s antlers sticking out of the water. Wade got in, grabbed the antlers, and hauled the buck out of the water. He saw right away that the deer had been wounded. He thinks it was from an arrow that grazed him. Why anyone would go after a buck that young was the question of the day, but Wade speculated that it was probably from the youth hunt that took place about two weeks ago. (Side note: Every time I hear “youth hunt,” I wonder if they’re hunting human youth. Heh.) The youth hunt is, of course, a time for those under the age of 18 to go hunting, and it’s likely some young person didn’t take into consideration the age of the deer either out of excitement or just wanting to have a successful hunt.
Note: I am not exactly against hunting. Many people here put much-needed food on their table that way. Probably more so now that so many are unemployed or underemployed due to the pandemic. There are some, too, who donate the meat to a local food bank. Hunting, it seems to me, is a better choice than factory farming animals whose lives are miserable and whose keepers don’t seem to have much regard for the feelings or intelligence of the animals. That said, I find it equally cruel to injure an animal and not follow up. To give the benefit of the doubt, it’s possible whoever shot at it didn’t know they had grazed it. Or didn’t know to follow up, if it happened during a youth hunt. Hopefully they teach the young hunters better than that, but I don’t know.
The wound was infected and Wade said it was the infection that killed the deer. The reason the buck came to the pond, maybe, was to try to bring down his fever. I asked what we should do with his body. Wade offered to drag the deer out to the middle of the trees, hiding it so we wouldn’t have to see him. I told him I’d like to leave him where the vultures and eagles would find him right away. Since that was the case, he pulled the deer about 10 feet up towards the tree line of what I call the New Woods (I used to call it the Future Woods but the trees are pretty tall now). He said that should be a good spot. I’m not sure if it is or not. The crows showed up first the following day. Then a few turkey vultures followed. I thought they’d be out there for a while, but there has been no sign of them except for flyovers and circling in the air. I’m not sure why. I have not walked over to the area where the deer is since Wade pulled him out of the water. M passed by there yesterday and said it’s looking pretty gruesome.
I sat with the buck for a while on Tuesday evening when he was still alive. I stayed across the pond, on the bench, because I didn’t want to frighten him anymore than he might already be frightened. I would like to have offered some sort of consolation or comfort, but didn’t know how to do so without making it worse for him. So, I sat and watched for a while. Bearing witness, I suppose, if you want to go in that direction. When I left at sunset, I cried for a while. After Wade left on Wednesday, I really cried. For a long while. In that outpouring of grief for the deer, there was all the grief from this year. Maybe from all the years. I had no idea I was carrying so much of it within my body and my heart. It was immensely cleansing, immensely healing, and the question came up: Do I hoard feelings in the same way I hoard other things?
I think I might. My hoarding of things is fairly limited (books and photos, for the most part). I see echoes of my mother in the way I sometimes let certain things pile up. It’s always interesting, maybe a little comforting, to find those commonalities. Although I was in my early 50’s when my mother died, I feel like I never really got to know her. Circumstances made that difficult. From the time I married, I lived Away, usually quite a distance away. I didn’t have the opportunity to live nearby and visit with her often. So, if I want to get to know her a little better, sometimes I turn towards myself.
Since I am on the subject of hoarding, sort of, let’s move on to the decluttering and cleaning project. Over the weekend I spent quite a bit of time decluttering my email. I’ve often heard people who use Gmail say that they archive all of their email because there is plenty of space. I’m here to tell you that isn’t true. You CAN use up your Gmail space. I am still at 89% used and will continue to declutter by deleting. Even with a lot left to deal with, I feel better already when I check my email. There was not only deleting to do, but a great deal of unsubscribing. I hope this will make things more manageable.
It’s rainy and windy here today. There are gale warnings and tornado watches in effect. The storm is coming from the south so there’s warmth to it (our highs will be near 70°F) for now. The cold will follow. It looks like some will get snow from the front. I’m a little envious. I’d rather have snow than rain, especially when it’s cold.
A programming note: Frank and I will be collaborating again over at his place. The post is scheduled to be published on Saturday, December 5. I’ll post a link here on Saturday after it’s published.
Thank you so much for visiting and joining me on another meander. My photos were all over the place today. That reflects how I’m feeling — a little scattered. I’m still sorting through photos that sat in the camera waiting for space on the computer. I really will get to the horses, eventually. I don’t think we’ll see much at sunset today, but if you’d like to meet me out at the Point, it’s scheduled for 4:43 PM. The rain and wind won’t keep me away, but if there’s thunder, lightning, or a tornado watch/warning in effect, I won’t go. It should still be fairly warm. I’d suggest a light jacket (or rain coat) and boots.
Please be safe, be well, and be kind. ♥
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,626) Wade from the DNR. He was very helpful, on a number of fronts. 1,627) The feathered clean-up crew (crows, turkey vultures, and bald eagles). 1,628) Putting up the solstice tree yesterday. We put it on the deck where we can see it from the living room. The wind knocked it over this morning, but we were expecting that. We’ll put it back up tomorrow or whenever the blustery winds move out to sea. 1,629) Shifting. Something has shifted lately. I’m not sure what, but it has and I think it’s for the better. Even so, I suspect the next few weeks are going to be hard for a lot of people. 1,630) Watching the branches of the trees sway and dance as the wind blows through. Some of the trees still have leaves on them and the leaves are swaying and dancing, too.