While our working definition of deer was taking shape, another classification was hinted at; warnings were given. My Aunt was the first. "They're dangerous," she told us. We laughed.
"It's true," my brother echoed, later. He cited a story of a man attacked by a rampaging buck.
Weeks went by before Caleb was confronted by the stag (okay, some sort of male deer). It hobbled out from the bush, weaving like a drunk-test failure. One antler torn and bleeding, the buck stopped short to lock eyes with Caleb before it pawing the earth and beginning its charge. Fortunately, the railing of our deck provided protection and afforded Caleb enough time to duck in through the front door. Safely inside, he peered past the curtain to watch the buck stagger back into the bush.
The possibility of violence had reared it's deerish head. I remained unconvinced until one dark morning in November, from the seat of my bike I watched two bucks crash horns across Lochside Drive (picture that terrible scene in Bambi). A shadow was cast. Deer...who were they?
As the year wore on our misgivings faded with our remembrances of long summer days and minted mohitos. Deer joined the backdrop of our lives. They grazed through our field and out again. No longer exclaimed upon, and no longer watched for evidence of Hyde-like behaviour, the deer had simply been forgotten.
We turned our efforts to improving the house -- a new shower was installed -- and playing with the yard. With the master's path nearly completing it's route about the house, we turned our eyes to a garden. It took a number of days before an area was cleared and the grass broken to soil. We were nearly ready to begin. We had the seeds. I'd bought garden gloves. We'd enlisted help. It was time to fence.
Here is were I pause to reflect upon what we knew of deer: deceptively cute, potentially dangerous. Deception, potential: these words remain central to my now expanded understanding of deer. These are the traits we failed to account for when we cut the beams for our fence and dug them into the earth. While the beams was a good start (the logs were solid and well supported and stood about ten feet tall), we went wrong with the string. At the time, it seemed best to avoid buying costly fencing equipment such as chicken wire or bamboo or any type of filler, really. Instead, we elected to run crisscrossing lines of coloured thread between the posts. Our garden now looked like it belonged in a compounded from a dystopian society. Uncertain about the strength of the string, we added intersecting branches to the fence. The holes were small and impenetrable, we thought.
Happy with our work we planted and watered and waited. It wasn't long before the kale and lettuce pushed through the grown. The wheat (a madcap expriment) was doing particularly well. We waited and waited, but the greens didn't seem to be getting much bigger. Examining the soil in the kale box one afternoon, Caleb refelcted that it almost seemed as if something had gotten in for a nibble. A rabbit we thought, or a cat. Did cat's like kale?
Deceptively cute, potentialy dangerous.
Deep into a Sunday afternoon, lazy from a nap, Caleb steps out onto the deck. There is a moment of calm before he looks to the garden. In that glance he takes in the absurd lines of colour, the mangle of sticks, and a brown body curled in the lettuce box, finishing its own afternoon nap. With a leap Caleb is on the gravel, running, shouting, ready to strangle the deer with his bare hands. But he's no match. No match for the deception of stillness, in a flash the deer is moving, or the potential for maneuvers, the deep steps through a small space between one pink and one yellow string in a hoof beat. With the flag of his tail flying, the deer vanishes into the thickness of the forest.
Since, we've added a layer of chicken wire to our dystopian fence and when the deer come visiting, it isn't 'deer, comes see,' that we shout.
I bought the lettuce for this salad at Michell's farm.
Croutons:Cut up some bread into pieces, toss it in a bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped herbs. Spread it on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes at 300, or until the bread is cruchy.
Dressing (Adapted from the Rebar Cookbook):1 head of garlic roasted
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dijon
2 Tbsp pureed chipoltes
1/3 cup grated asiago cheese
1 cup olive oil
Put all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and process unitl smooth. With the blender running, slowly add the olive oil. It should emulsify as you pour.
Choose your favorite lettuce, tare it into bite sized pieces, toss with dressing and garnish with croutons and more grated cheese. Yum.