“There should be a controlled kill,” the man stated firmly.
“Oh, absolutely,” a nearby woman agreed, nodding vigorously. “They eat everything! My baptisia, the hostas, the hydrangeas. They even ate my geraniums!” She paused and then repeated, somewhat shrilly, “My geraniums!”
The dialogue continued among these neighbors as they enjoyed a summer party and bemoaned the ravaging effects of the local deer population on their gardens. Another man edged into the conversation. “An electric fence is the only way to go,” he stated. Nearby neighbors bobbed their heads in agreement. At the edge of the sun-dappled clearing, a bedraggled hosta, chewed in parts to the quick, stood as mute but vivid testament to their frustration.
“What they need to do,” someone else contributed, “is to give out more antlerless deer permits.” The conversation continued in this vein for some time and then desultorily meandered into new territories: summer plans, wood-chopping techniques, the weather. Gradually daylight faded, mosquitos appeared and guests dispersed.
Later at home that evening my husband called softly, “Come quick! There’s a deer in the driveway.” We approached carefully, creeping into the bedroom and peering out the window. There it was, a young deer, stepping daintily across our graveled drive.
“Shh!” we both whispered. The deer, oblivious to our scrutiny, continued to meander up the driveway, stopping periodically to munch on some shrubbery or to gaze around. It moved onto the lawn, it’s tail twitching softly. Once it paused, perhaps at some distant noise, and stood still, its face framed with overlarge ears, straining to listen. It relaxed and resumed eating, occasionally stopping to listen, or to nibble at an itch on its tawny flanks. We watched for seemingly endless minutes as it wandered throughout the yard.
My mind drifted back to the conversation I’d overheard earlier that day. Controlled kill…hostas and geraniums…electric fences…antlerless deer permits. I settled against the window frame and watched this one deer. I marveled at its grace, the length of its supple neck, and its singular beauty in the evening light.