Old man winter blew through the south amazingly early this year. In fact, we had to batten down the hatches a couple of weeks ago in order to battle the blustery winds and frigid below-freezing temperatures that arrived nearly two months earlier than normal. Back in September and October, FD and I were actually predicting an early arrival of winter’s harsh conditions based on observation of Nature preparing the woodland critters well in advance. Daisy deer’s glossy, thin coat of summer hair, gave way to a thick, coarse pelt in darker winter hues of browns, with a fringe of black on her ears and tail. Her face became fuzzy, and her underbelly grew to a thick padding of white hair. Her girth increased and she seemed robustly prepared for the onslaught of cold temperatures and frozen moisture falling from the skies. Even Punkin and Mr. Gambini, the two orphaned squirrels we are raising, had already developed thick coats of hair and extra fuzzy ears and tails.
I suppose I was not terribly surprised when Heidi deer disappeared during the recent cold snap. I was terribly sad when Spirit’s late season fawn, Willow, disappeared earlier, and even more disheartened when Daisy’s six-month-old fawn, Dancer (Heidi’s twin sister), vanished recently. I thought Heidi, being the lone survivor of this year’s offspring, might escape whatever was taking our woodland fawns one by one. But after waiting out more than a week of her absence in the bitter cold November weather, I have given up hope. Lately, I have watched Daisy and Spirit mutual groom one another time and again, as if consoling each other over the loss of their babies. But losing Heidi was the last straw for me, and I could not seem to grieve openly. I think it was more about acceptance of yet another loss in my life – and yet another season of joy and contentment gone terribly wrong.
Now, the only fawn in the woodlands that remains of all of those birthed over the spring and summer is a little button buck. He and his mother have frequented the feeders and water tub over the summer months. Now, he often waits down below the slope for his mother to return from the chase of the rut. In fact, he has been hanging around so much, I have actually managed to make friends with this little fella over the last few days. He does not let me get as near to him as Heidi and Dancer would, but he watches curiously from a distance. I noticed a scar near the button antler on the right side of his head, and a gash torn on the same side near his shoulder. Also, his right ear has a small notch in it. The more I observe the deer in our area of the woodlands, the more I realize that they incur all sorts of injuries and ailments during their lives. Thinking about this, I was thankful to see this little fella patiently waiting on his mother in the safety of our feeding area, and was glad he felt comfortable here on the fringes of our woodlands.
Today, I was in the kitchen doing some cooking to help knock off the chill in the house, when I saw something yellow, tumbling about in the wind – floating up, hurtling down, then back up again in a crazy somersault pattern. At first I assumed it was a leaf, even though most of the leaves were now brown or a weathered red. Our brilliant colors of oranges, reds, and yellows had disappeared after the first days of below-freezing temperatures. But it did not seem normal for a leaf to travel in the wind in such a manner. As I followed the yellow object with my eyes, it became apparent that it was a butterfly! I wondered how on earth had it managed to survive the extreme cold for nearly two weeks?
As it passed on by the kitchen window, I raced to the back door to continue following the butterfly’s journey across our yard and down the slope to the bottom. I tried to photograph it but, flying such a crazy pattern, it was impossible to capture. Finally, it disappeared into the woods. Still, I was elated at having witnessed this miracle of sorts.
After the butterfly disappeared, I went back in the house and, as I turned to finish washing dishes at the kitchen sink, I caught the gaze of my smiling Eeyore staring back at me from the window sill. I had long ago found a discarded Eeyore patch in the parking lot of the local Walmart. The morning I discovered him there, I had been in a dark funk (Discovering the Eeyore in Me…), and that little Eeyore patch reminded me just how pathetic I had become! So I picked up the patch and have kept it on my window sill to remind me of the old Eeyore attitude that used to make up so much of my personality. Still today, or anytime I am in a doom-and-gloom mood, or just being negative, that little patch makes me smile. After all, if old “woe is me” Eeyore can smile, then so can I!
Taking in Eeyore’s kind reminder, I began to reflect in a more positive tone. What about this butterfly in flight who shouldn’t have survived two weeks of freezing, and below-freezing temperatures? And was it not something special to see that one, lone button buck surviving wounds and loneliness, awaiting his mother in our area of the woods? To see Daisy and Spirit deer every few days, with a buck or two making chase – and being able to enjoy watching the rut activity just outside our back door – who else had such entertainment? And the orphaned squirrels, Punkin and Mr. Gambini, eating morning vittles and then scurrying off to the woods for the day, representing another successful rehabilitation effort! Thinking of all these blessings, I found myself redirecting my thoughts of loss and sadness, to all of the bliss and happiness to be found right here, at this very moment. If we try, we really do not have to look far to find life’s little miracles.
This Thanksgiving, FD and I are invited to spend the day with special friends. For us, it is not the traditional way we grew up celebrating the holiday – always driving many miles to be with family. But, for the past few years now, our Thanksgiving celebrations have been about enjoying the day with people we love right here where we are. And maybe this Thanksgiving Day, I will just have to wear the little Eeyore patch pinned to my jacket. It surely will make for some great storytelling about recent happenings and how I have learned to look beyond these troubling times, to find miracles in every day, every moment, and to be thankful for the beauty that surrounds me.
Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!
© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…