Finding a place in our changing world

Posted by Tom Camfield

It’s time for me to make another of my periodic plugs for Mother Nature and the various struggling creatures with whom I share my life. Global warming/climate change is too big a topic to handle in this forum—beyond noting that the world environment is crumbling around us and nobody’s doing much about it. Our government at the national level actually is contributing to it. Polluting industry has a “get out of jail free” card as our plutocracy plunges ever forward under the Trump administration.

But I consider continuing over-population also to be a major factor in the changing of our natural surroundings, the sacrifice of twining greenery and ancient trees in favor of the sharp pink and purple angles of human habitation. Various forms of wildlife, in particular deer, brought the situation to our attention by carrying it into town not too many years ago—fleeing the bulldozers (and predatory dogs) of “progress” just like so many human refugees of places such as Orange County, Calif. 

Having reacted to the demands of human nature with the instincts of Mother Nature, deer now are viewed by many city-dwelling humans as villains rather than victims. But not by me. I find it easy to empathize with deer; they are a portent of humanity’s future. Although by contrast to us, the ravaging homo sapiens, they remain a model of innocence—not overloading the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, not burning coal, not polluting the oceans, not killing one another like rats in a crowded maze. Some day the last of them likely will pass pragmatically on in uncomplaining silence, like so many species that have preceded them.

Meanwhile, I choose to  luxuriate to an extent in their innocence. Living on two lots in Uptown Port Townsend, I can look out my living room window most any time and see the scene above—and marvel over how such a calming ambiance probably has added years to my life.

The deer in the photo is one of my regulars in a commodious yard bounded by hedges, tall cedar against weather and human traffic, laurel for winter deer forage—along with a variety of minor plant munchies, no resident dogs, etc. The deer have kept the lawn mowed and the laurel trimmed during the winter. Fencing denies them the vegetable garden, but they have pruned fruit trees to a height they can reach by standing on their hind legs. Nothing goes to waste. 

This deer is one of the younger ones, likely born here a year or so ago. She is one of as many as 6 or 7 at one time who can be seen staking out their favorite resting spots around the yard at any given time. This is a terror-free refuge. Despite the appearance of the photo, the deer do not sprawl out on flower plants. They choose either the lawn or patches of favorite bare ground that they sometimes have customized a bit for comfortable fit. 

I looked at this particular deer yesterday morning and wondered what an amazing sight it would be to some inner-city kid in Chicago or Baltimore, looking out a window just a couple of yards away. A calming influence that could change the world.

Deer represent  a  lesson in existence and emphasize the values of an inclusive society. And no, I don’t feed them. They still go to work every day, providing for their own sustenance on seeming predetermined routes—around about where foodstuffs grow. Teaching their children, also bathing and nurturing them. Where are the big-shot male deer with the fancy antlers so seldom seen around town except in rutting season? Good question.

I do talk to my deer, and they do not flee in fear at the sound of my voice. They don’t even rise from their lie-downs. I am in training as a deer whisperer; I already have the listening part down pretty well. It also helps that I’m not an anal sort whose life resolves around an impeccable lawn—as ours is randomly fertilized and is no place for the bare-footed.

Topping off the ambience of this nature’s nook today, as I write this, is a madcap squirrel, cavorting about in the cedars before an audience of several reclining cud-chewing does who are taking a bit of the mid-day sun. How are things at your house? 

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