I had hoped for an early snowfall this winter. Like all mothers, I wanted to be around to photograph Daisy’s first snow. I wanted to observe her watching snowflakes fall for the first time. I hoped for photographs of her with snow on her head, and little snow crystals alighting her long lashes. I wanted to capture her looking upward in wonderment at this strange icy substance, like she sometimes did when curiously watching birds fly above, and reacting with a jump or a leap. I laughed, thinking about her first rain… how I’d watched her get silly, jumping and frolicking as the drops pelted down and how, after a time when puddles formed, she danced and stomped in the magic liquid. I captured all of that in photographs.
But it was not meant to be this time. Daisy, the orphaned fawn we raised last year, had been free since January 16th. And, even though I see her almost daily, she comes and goes at her leisure. When the snow moved in last night, I stepped outside to watch the first flakes falling, hoping to see my little Daisy Dew. It was a cold, wet snow; big flakes of icy-ness blinding me as I faced the southwest wind that brought the moisture in. With no mother doe to guide her or lead her to shelter, I wondered where Daisy might be.
As I have done every night since the first night we put her outside in a pen with a small barn space for shelter, I thanked the Universe for taking care of my girl and prayed for her safety and comfort. Snowfall would be another part of her world that she would simply accept, and surely, instinct would lead her to shelter and comfort. I had to quit thinking like a human. When I turned in to bed each night, I comforted myself knowing that Mother Nature was her guide now.
This wasn’t the first time I had fretted over a little orphan we had set free. I worried each day about our hand-raised doves, and I worried Frosty the squirrel wouldn’t make it in the world of woodland predators. But always, there were signs and sightings of our wayward children months and years later. Hairy, furry or feathered, they each held a place in my heart. With Daisy, there had been a greater bond, and I found myself yearning for just a mere glimpse of her each day.
Mid-morning, I decided to don my heavy coat, Muck boots, and my warmest cap – the Elmer Fudd. It looks ridiculous, but it’s warm and that is all that I care about. Well now, you might catch me undoing the chin strap if I meet someone while getting the mail – I do have just a bit of pride you know! My heavy red coat is an old discard of FD’s. It’s an antique duck hunting jacket by Ted Williams, “For Active Americans” sold exclusively by Sears & Roebuck, in what year I have no idea. It’s warm and has lots of pockets, which makes for a great ranch jacket.
This morning, I cut up a ripe pear just in case I was to see Daisy, grabbed my camera, slipped on my mittens, and headed out the back door. My first stop was at the deer feed container to fill and carry a bucket of feed to the two feed pans down in the canyon below. FD had filled the corn feeder yesterday, so there should be plenty of that to last the week.
When I reached the canyon below, I saw all sorts of animal tracks in the snow. The red fox had been making her rounds, as had a feral cat. A few hoof prints from deer were present just under the corn feeder and I suspected Daisy may have had a snack in the early morning. Raccoon tracks and some other unidentified critter made little paths in the snow, leading off into the woods.
I set my empty bucket down and decided to concentrate on taking snow shots with the camera. Snow brought about unusual opportunities to photograph spectacular landscape and nature. The overcast skies made for perfect, shadowless shots. I was focused on a Carolina Chickadee when I felt a familiar nose poke my leg (at least, I certainly HOPED it was a familiar nose) as Daisy quietly appeared next to me. I had not heard her approach at all. Immediately, she went for my camera, curious about it. I backed off and pulled out the container of ripe pears from my coat pocket to divert her attention. She looked good… dry and seemingly unaffected by the previous night’s snowfall. I snapped a few pictures of her, then gave her a good petting and tick check. I lifted her legs to inspect and check for wounds. I found two places where she had been hoofed, likely by an older doe. Everything looked clean, with only a couple of patches of hair about the size of a quarter missing; one on her neck and the other on a hip. I spoke to her in a soothing voice and she licked my neck and face. Then, without so much as a goodbye, she turned and made her way into the woods towards her food plot, to graze on turnips, chicory and various other good eats.
This was certainly not at all what I had envisioned for the “first snow” event. Daisy was just fine. She didn’t need a thing from me. She wasn’t ruffled or wet or even all that hungry. I expected her to react to this cold, crunchy substance in some extreme manner. But she didn’t paw at the snow or jump around in it and, in fact, seemed oblivious to its presence. She was simply living another day.
I looked at the photographs I had taken of her, and then it occurred to me; Daisy had become a young lady. I studied her posture and her body language. She’s confident, alert, and she is careful. I got to laughing at myself, as I had pictured her running crazy through the woods, shaking the snow off and looking frantically for her mother (me), wondering what the heck that wet stuff was falling from the sky? Now wouldn’t that make her the laughing-stock of all deer? Wouldn’t that make her easy bait for a predator, drawing all sorts of attention to herself? But Daisy was following her instinct. She didn’t fear the snow. She probably didn’t even wonder about it. That instinct guided her to shelter and comfort. She bedded down somewhere safe and waited until the snow lifted. This was no event for her. It was simply another day of life for a deer in the woodlands.
I thought of my self-created disappointments. Of my own panic and drama at events beyond my control. I wondered at the number of times that I have had expectations of how people should be, or how something should go, only to be sorely disappointed. Daisy’s confidence and reliance on instinct reminds me to do the same. Instead of turning to panic, drama, chaos, noise and worry, I should, instead, tap into my inner spirit. I should to let go of my expectations of others. Whenever the snowstorms of life come around in the future, I will hopefully learn to look quietly within and find courage, realizing – KNOWING – my spiritual instinct, like my Daisy’s natural instinct, will always lead me to safety and comfort.
© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…