Tag Archives: deer

Printless as eyelight.

I came upon this haunting poem again, and though it seems I must have posted it here many times before, the evidence shows that I have restrained myself. Today, I indulge myself instead. I’m sharing the photo and thoughts from a previous post, because nothing has changed, except my readership.

I continue to wonder about layers of meaning in the poem… “printless as eyelight” is a phrase appropriately elusive to me. Are they “beautiful flocks of the mind” only because their image stays with us as memory, or because they represent some of our own less dull thoughts?


Shy in their herding dwell the fallow deer.
They are spirits of wild sense. Nobody near
Comes upon their pastures. There a life they live,
Of sufficient beauty, phantom, fugitive,
Treading as in jungles free leopards do,
Printless as eyelight, instant as dew.
The great kine are patient, and homecoming sheep
Know our bidding. The fallow deer keep
Delicate and far their counsel wild,
Never to be folded reconciled
To the spoiling hand as the poor flocks are;
Lightfoot, and swift and unfamiliar,
These you may not hinder, unconfined
Beautiful flocks of the mind.

-John Drinkwater

When my grandson asks what is my favorite animal, I have to say it is the deer. To watch one bound away after it is startled in the forest is a captivating sight, none the less that it is normally quite a brief glimpse, of great strength and speed combined with grace.

[In 2009] we visited a farm where white-tailed deer are kept as livestock, and viewed the corrals where the lovely animals are kept but evidently not tamed (“never to be folded reconciled”). The deer in the pen closest to us seemed to be frightened at our presence. The farmer was not there at the time and I don’t know if his presence is any less disturbing. I couldn’t take my eyes off the deer zigzagging nonstop in its cage; to watch that beauty without it disappearing into the trees was very odd. We weren’t there long enough for me to get used to the vision that is usually so rare. Nor did I begin to feel reconciled myself to coming near upon their pastures.

The photo of deer above was taken while walking down the street in an Oregon neighborhood. Perhaps those deer are calm because they are still “keeping their counsel wild.” No one is threatening them. If I’d had my camera that day at the corral, I might have taken a sad video of a wild animal from whom I was at that moment stealing something. In that moment I wasn’t thinking about these things; I didn’t think there was anything wrong with breeding wild deer. But since I came home and read Drinkwater’s poem again -– I have treasured it and worked at memorizing it for decades -– I am reconsidering.

Babies in the garden.

glP1010921 dahlia pink yellow

The first evening I was at Pippin’s house on my recent visit, little Jamie lay on his tummy on a blanket and watched from the lawn as his mother did her gardening. You can see him as a white spot near the center of the picture below.





Another day, he gazed up at the trees contentedly while Mom pushed his brother and sister in the swings a few feet away. We laughed about how well camouflaged he was among the leaves and dappled sunlight. I imagine that the changing light and shadows were what kept him entertained.



deer Oct 15



(If humans are busy in the back yard, the deer keep to the front.) >

When I was a young mother I also set my babies up in the yard while I was out there, but as I recall, some liked it better than others. Now I can’t remember which ones preferred to be indoors, and which would happily soak up the fresh air and open spaces.


I feel I must paste in a closer-up picture, too, to prove that Jamie was not fussing.Jamie lawn trees crpLast time I saw Pippin’s garglP1010913den was in May, when planting had barely begun; it is full of lovely things now, with ever more dahlias (inside the deer fence) – and the zinnias that the deer don’t usually eat. They’ve refrained so far this year. It gets so cold in the forest there, she has to dig up the tubers before winter and replant them, along with some new acquisitions, in the spring.





The older children like to be in the garden, too. When Scout made a messy puddle by the gate Pippin was annoyed, but calm. After the hose was turned off Scout announced, “That ant is walking on water!” and we all crouched down to see how the surface tension and the dust did make a way for the insect to get across the lake that had instantly appeared in his world.



glP1010938 ant walking on water

All of this happened on my departure day; I had to force myself to leave the fun and start on the long drive home. I’d like to return soon, but I have my own garden babies, tiny seedlings of greens, to take care of now. And my next trip will be in the opposite direction, to be with other loved ones, in other mountains. More on that to come.

dahlias crp

Images from the week.

deer at coast 8-26-15My grandson drove over to move some free dirt that had to be dumped in the driveway because a Bobcat loader was still here blocking the way to the backyard.  I should have taken a picture of him shoveling for me, but instead I’m stealing one of the pictures he took later on, when he hiked at the coast in the evening and saw dozens of deer on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific. I know this one doesn’t look real, but it is.


Zinnias volunteered in my garden this summer, mostly the orange trailing variety, but also one tall yellow specimen, which a butterfly visited just as I was getting out of my car — I asked him to stick around while I dropped my bags on the ground so I could take his picture, and he fluttered back and forth, but re-landed enough times that I was successful.

Yes, I am ashamed of all that basil flowering in the background. I told you I haven’t been cooking!


I attended a Vigil service at a nearby parish for the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, Old Calendar. A Slavic custom that was new to me was the greeting of their bishop with an offering of bread and salt. After he tore off and dipped a piece, he offered a bite to the young woman holding the platter.

IMG_0604 crp bread eat

On my way home the moon was so big and bright, I had to stop and take its picture, and now I’m hunting for a moon phase widget to put on my blog site.

IMG_0606 moon crp

They shun zinnias.

They are on all sides, the deer. If I go on the front lawn to throw the frisbee with Scout, a doe named Splotchy is waiting under the crabapple tree wondering if I am a kind human like my son-in-law and might shake down a few fruits the way he does. Her fawn looks on from a greater distance.

If I exit the back door and head off near the woodpile to shake the dirt out of a rug, two deer are startled and bound away into the forest, showing not much more than their flying hooves behind them.

Standing at the kitchen sink after breakfast or before dinner, we are likely to see out the window one to several does and fawns grazing on the lawn or standing by the garden fence, nibbling…what?

Evidently they are not nibbling at the zinnias, and I think it truly amazing. Pippin with unbelievable optimism grew these tall and lovely flowers from seed and they are still growing and blooming and decorating the yard, outside the deer fence, and not taking up space that the vegetables need.

The Four Fawns

It’s the butternut squash and the cosmos that the creatures want, so they keep checking in case a leaf grew through the fence during the previous night. If it didn’t, they can always chew some more on the lantana that they have eaten nearly to a stub.

Since I’ve been here at Pippin’s, more than once we have been surprised to see a group of four fawns, without their mothers, come out of the forest and walk straight over to the fence to snoop and sniff and nibble around. This is very unusual and makes us speculate as to what is going on at home. Do the does say, “Run along, kids, you’ll be safe at that place where the people are nice.”

Or do the mothers not know where their children are? Has there been a breakdown in deer society, so that adolescents are now roaming around in gangs? Shortly after I arrived ten days ago, The Professor came in the house to announce that he had found a different doe with her fawn on three sides of the house. But a couple of days later, this change.

What can the mothers be doing when the fawns are away in their group? Having a coffee klatch? I don’t suppose we will ever know. And as long as the fawns keep up the tradition of not eating zinnias, I won’t fret about it.