Oh, deer

by Lorin Michel Sunday, April 5, 2015 8:12 PM

The desert always amazes me. Friday night, after several hours spent unpacking boxes, I cut them up, flattened them, and put them in the back of the Range Rover. The hatch wouldn’t close so I started down the hill very slowly. At the second turn, I sensed some movement and slowed even further. A deer emerged in front of me and bounced across the road, up the hill and out of sight. I smiled.

I expected to see rattlesnakes, which I have, though not as many as I would have thought. I saw more in California. I expected to see lizards, and they’re plentiful. I’ve seen gila monsters which generally freak me out. They’re funky looking creatures, black and corral or black and pink or black and lavender. They lumber across the road or through the desert. Every time I see one and it’s not often, I recoil a bit. I’m not generally squeamish. I think with gila monsters I remember what a woman said to me when we first moved here. “Make sure you watch your dog closely because they’ll be curious and go to sniff and the gila monster can’t get out of its own way and so it will bite, and when it bites, it doesn’t let go.” I could just imagine Cooper with one of those things hanging off of his neck, panicking, as we flew to the vet.

My sister has long been worried about scorpions. When Mike was here last week, and Bobbi was here alone, he proceeded to tell her that he was going to beef up the padding around the door and to be very careful because new construction tends to scare out the scorpions. I had never seen one. And of all people to tell, he tells Bobbi who’s not especially fond of spiders and creepy crawly things. Yesterday, when I moved a box in the bedroom, I saw one. They’re smaller than I thought they’d be, and easily and quickly killed. I told Kevin we needed to start emptying our shoes before we put them on, just in case.

Coyotes roam through the cactus freely. We haven’t seen any out here; haven’t even heard their incessant howls in the night. We heard them more when we lived in the city. Coyotes were plentiful in California, too, of course. We used to see them regularly when we were hiking. I saw one brazenly walking down the street one night in Oak Park. It was on the sidewalk and just meandering along. It was late, probably after midnight and I was taking Maguire out to pee. He always had to pee in the front yard. It was routine. I always checked first to make sure the proverbial coast was clear. It wasn’t. That coyote stopped right in front of the house and stared at me as if willing me to bring the old guy out. “I’m hungry, lady.”

We have javelinas, wild pigs. And pack rats. We have two hawks that soar above the house daily. We have tarantulas or actually tarantula. Beetles and crickets that come equipped with saddles. When we bought the motorcycle a year ago, and were taking it out for its inaugural ride, we saw something black flying toward us. It was a weird kind of low cloud, and we had no idea what it was. Turned out it was a swarm of bees that hit us and the motorcycle straight on. It was ugly. We had bee carcasses everywhere.

This is life in the desert. It’s more lush and lovely than I ever imagined, and more prickly. This morning we were hiking in the hills above us and came upon a cactus that was flowering. Most of the others haven’t yet; it’s a bit early. By about the third week in April, the saguaros will all be sporting hats made of flowers.

After we got back from our walk/hike we made some coffee and eventually I made breakfast. It was a beautiful morning, warm but not hot. We decided to eat on the deck. I took the juice and the silverware out and glanced up the hill. I stopped. There was an animal. I thought it was a coyote. But it was big for a coyote. Still, the coloring was right. Then it raised its head and turned to stare at me, ears straight up, still as morning. It was a deer, perhaps my deer from Friday night. It was as if it had come back to say ‘Hi, welcome to the neighborhood. But don’t bother me.’

If this keeps up, I’m going to have to name it. As it is, I’ll just say ‘Hi, deer. Nice to meet you” and celebrate the fact that we have majestic creatures like deer that co-exist with the dreaded gila monsters. 

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live out loud

Comments (1) -

4/6/2015 1:23:18 AM #

I was eagerly reading this story about the deer, and I almost missed it...

A scorpion. In the house. GULP.

I do look forward to meeting your deer though. But she/he does need a name.

Bobbi United States

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