This past summer Bryan cleared out a thicket of brush from the front of our house to plant some palm trees and agave. I don't think either one of us knew what a big undertaking it would be. Halfway through the project we ran out of money, so now there is a flat bald spot flanking our driveway dotted with a few yellowing Mexican Fan Palms. We soon found out that the brush had been home to a gaggle of neighborhood deer. Or a flock. A den, a family, however deer congregate, the thicket had been their home. In the mornings now we come out to find them clustered together sleeping on our flax bushes, exposed and covered with dew. And every morning Bryan runs at them waving his arms and stomping his feet, hissing SPSSSSSPSS! He hates the deer. They ate our Potato Vine, he says when I argue for their cuteness. The deer rise slowly, turn to look at Bryan as if to say don't be such a dick, and then they clatter down the driveway, I don't know where to.
Yesterday I sat at our kitchen table writing and looking for jobs that don't exist when suddenly I heard what sounded like a high-heeled supermodel clatter up the stairs to our deck. I looked out the window and there it was, a deer. Who knew they could climb up such a steep staircase? I thought maybe it was like those slats you see at the end of farm roads: the cows are afraid to walk over them and so the slats act as an invisible fence. But there it was, a deer on my deck, slowly sniffing at echeveria and ice plants as if sliding a tray down the counter at Fresh Choice. In my youth my parents sent me to an environmental hippie camp where I learned how to pull apart owl scat to find mouse bones, a skill I have not yet had to employ in my day to day existence, but at that camp I also learned how to sneak up on deer. Apparently deer have terrible eyesight and really only see movement, so I tiptoed up to the plate glass window, stopping only when the deer turned its big eyes on me. Freeze, both of us not daring to breathe. Audrey Hepburn had a deer as a pet. She brought him to the grocery store and called him Pippin. I tiptoed back to my kitchen to get a head of lettuce--surely that would be tastier than an ice plant. I envisioned nights spent in front of the fireplace, brushing my deer's coat, a montage of images of the deer nuzzling my neck which inexplicably included a young Robert Redford, but when I turned back around, the deer was gone.
Palm trees don't belong in deer country, and I am sorry for clearing their home. I think about what the coming months will bring to my family. Oh, I know we won't be spending the night huddled together on top of a flax bush, but still. I am just really sorry.
Top image: Sharon Montrose
Second image: Rupert, RIP
Third image: here
Last image: my deck