Critters Writing

Companion to small things

The weather was so hot yesterday, I waited to just before sunset to go for a walk. There didn’t seem to be anyone around on the short trail I’ve been having to take lately (the longer ones being too hard on my knee and ankle). This suited me, as I wan’t in the mood for company, or having to respond to the tentative smiles walkers give out as we pass each other.

I had my head phones on listening to music when a sudden movement on the road ahead of me made me jerk in surprise. One of the young deer had been in the path and my coming around the corner startled it into flight.

It ran behind a tree and started to head towards the road when I called out to it, in my softest, “I swear I’m a vegetarian” voice. When she stopped, I knew she was my orphan — the little deer who lost her mother when she was still a tiny, spotted fawn. I’m not sure if her mother died because she was getting old or got hit by a car, or if the conservation area shot her in its effort to keep the deer from overgrazing the land. Probably the former, as the park people would never touch a mother if she still had young.

The yearling peered around the tree, big, beautiful brown eyes looking up at me, as if to seek reassurance that I wasn’t going to scare it again. I just kept talking to it, and carefully kept my movements to a minimum. Though I’ve chatted with this little girl since she was a baby, I was still amazed whe she turned around and came back into the path not far from me at all, and then into the greener parts of the park on the other side of the road.

In fact, she seemed to parallel my steps as I headed out again, as if she wanted company. Why not? There is a warmth beyond food and survival we get from companionship with others, so why should we assume humans are the only creatures that appreciate this? Frankly, the way we treat each other at times makes me wonder if we’re the only creatures that don’t appreciate this gift.

Looking at that sweet little head trotting along side, I had a wild moment contemplating opening the door at home with my arms full and calling out to my roommate, “It followed me home. Can I keep it?” The temptation, the need, was strong: after all, she wasn’t the only animal walking alone in the forest last night.

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