After midnight, hear strange rumblings coming from the side of the house, outside Miles’ window. From my office window, I see the large acacia bush moving, as if in a strong wind, but there is no wind. A bit freaked, thinking maybe some kids are setting up shop in the bushes, grab a flashlight and head outside. Sneak around the corner, throw a beam, and out pads a young buck, looking brave but a bit frightened. His antlers (substantial) had probably become entangled in the dense bushes while foraging, and now he was looking for a way out — but a human was blocking the only route.
I crouched, snapped off the torch, tried not to project a threatening vibe. His big black eyes were illuminated by a nearby streetlight, tranquil but a little bit scared. From a distance of about eight feet, we stared at each other for the longest time, equal parts curiosity and fear flowing in either direction.
This would not be such a surprising event if we were in a more rural location, but we live on a fairly busy street in a thoroughly suburban neighborhood, the last place one would expect to encounter forest creatures. But this is not the first time I’ve seen deer stray this far down from the hill. On evening walks, sometimes see them venturing into neighborhood gardens, snacking on suburban gardens. “Deer are just rats with good P.R.,” or so they say. Have even seem them on occasion traveling in groups, bounding down the street, hooves clacking against the asphalt, oblivious to stop signs, worse than those packs of kids buzzing around on 2-stroke scooters.
Eventually he made his move. Slowly, cautiously, as he had to come even closer to get past me. I’m sure the bulk of fear in the equation was on his side, but can’t say it didn’t cross my mind that those antlers could do serious damage if he decided for some reason that it might be fun to disembowel a bi-ped. Not that that’s ever happened, just saying it crossed my mind. Briefly.
Suddenly he broke into leaps, and was gone, up the street in seconds, tail bobbing in the darkness, clacking his way toward another garden.
Related: Wonderful interview by Forum’s Michael Krasny with poet and naturist Diane Ackerman. Ackerman talks about her conflicted feelings about deer, why she gives necklaces to squirrels, why she plants weeds, and how it’s against the law in some cities to let your front yard become a meadow.