Monday, March 23, 2015

Spot is back!

I'm finally beginning to believe spring will come. Since late January, nearly seven feet of snow has fallen at my home, and until this week we'd seen only three days above the freezing mark. It seemed winter would last forever. 

As I write this, in early March, we've just returned to daylight saving time, maple trees are sporting sap lines, and the piles of snow are visibly shrinking. Best sign of all--Spot is back!

How can you resist that face?

Spot is a three-year-old white-tailed deer with a rare and distinctive splotch on his face. I've watched him ever since he was a freckle-fannied fawn, and now he's well-grown buck. I've never seen him in his full, antlered glory, but I'm delighted he has returned to raid my bird feeders.

Actually, the fact he's raiding my bird feeders is a perversely grim harbinger of spring. Deer do quite well in the cold months, as long as they can reach the tender tips of branches. However, if the deep snows persist into late winter, as they have this year, and other, low-lying browse is not yet available, they get hungry. When they're very hungry, they take risks, like approaching human habitations in daylight. 

Spot is quite skittish right now, but he must also conserve energy. So he stands under the trees at the edge of my yard, watching and listening for danger. He takes a few steps at a time, his big ears swiveling and his body tensed for flight. The least disturbance is enough to chase him away--my cat on a windowsill, the vapor from our heating system, even a clanking knife as we fix lunch. So far this year, he and his ladies can still execute elegant bounds up to thirty feet long. Other years, they were so debilitated they barely moved unless we left the house and got within six feet of them.

While I love watching Spot from the corner of my window, I wish he didn't need to come so close. Transitions can be treacherous; I hope he makes it till spring again this year. Maybe this year there will be a fawn I can nickname Patch, Blob, Dot, Snip, Star...