Last Tuesday’s the day I talked to a deer. Yes, I did. It started back at our store when we got a call from the local church for some balsam boughs for its holiday services. It was cold, frigid, when I activated the glow plugs on th’old Kubota and after a couple attempts, she sputtered to life. Following a brief warm-up period, I hopped aboard and sat carefully on the cold-crusted seat. I pulled the four-wheel-drive lever and headed out the snowy farm road which leads east, toward the part of our farm where balsam firs grow wild and abundant. It was the kind of day where everything’s brittle and frozen and, with enough warmth from layers, gloves and ear flaps, I felt good ... invigorated from being outside in such Vermont winter splendor.

Low clouds had removed our usually spectacular view of the mountains to the south that day as I traveled over the windswept snowscape. The lack of that view made the world around seem smaller, like tightening the drawstring on a satchel. It was a good feeling. In fact, because of my mission, boughs for the church, and the wonderland around me, I was truly in the Christmas spirit.

As I crept up the final hill and entered the balsam area, the snow-clad trees seemed to bow for my arrival. Just before I turned the tractor off, I glanced to my left and there, no more than 30 feet away, stood a young deer. Although pushing the noon hour, it was just rising for the day. I thought to myself “teenagers!” ... they’re all the same.

It rose up slowly from a nest of packed snow and brown, trodden grass and looked at me with huge “Bambi” eyes. Our vicarious conversation went something like this ...

“I ain’t ‘fraid of you.” The young deer said, standing its ground.

“You don’t need to be,” I replied. “Where’s your mamma?”

“Got kilt but that’s OK. I kin take care of myself now.”

I grabbed the chainsaw and dismounted the tractor ...”Aren’t you gointa run or something?”

“Why?... this is my home, not yours!”

“Bambi’s” last statement was one I couldn’t argue with. Even though I pay taxes on the land and think I own it, I’m only pretending ... it’s truly owned by the wildlife. With a couple of quick pulls, I started my chainsaw and cut down a nearby balsam that had sufficient boughs for the church. In spite of the chainsaw’s roar, that deer simply ambled a short distance away as if to give me working room. I knew it intended to come back after my departure, back to its home where it would remain landlord over everything before my eyes.

Burr Morse lives in East Montpelier.

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