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Love Lies Bleeding

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

It was a morning, typical in a miraculously atypical October. A warm breeze had played in my bedroom window all night, and I'd fallen asleep to the sound of crickets and burbling water from the pond just below. 
I'd gotten up and made breakfast for Liam, and seen him off to his dreaded Wednesday college chemistry class and lab. (He's taking his courses at our community college in his junior year of high school).

I'd gotten dressed and headed out earlier than usual, to watch the sun rise. It was another warm and breezy morning, another day in Paradise. First stop: the morning glories on the back deck, for obvious reasons.

With short, warm days and warm nights, these flowers get gloriously confused, and they stay open for two or three days instead of closing up on their first night of bloom. I don't understand the mechanism of it at all, though I've thought hard about it. Could it be humidity related? There's no dew on these dry warm nights. What makes a morning glory close up at the end of the day, anyway?

Whatever the  mechanism, they aren't closing. They're staying open for two or even three days.
When they're two days old, a violet hue creeps into them, brightening to fuchsia on the edges. It's...ahhh.

The net effect is an absolute carpet of blossoms in varying shades of true cerulean to cobalt violet. I had worried that my vines would never bloom before frost. Well, frost has been kind to them, and I get to roll my eyes around in morning glories all day long. Here it is November 2 and they're going strong through this fabulous autumn, the most protracted foliage spectacle I can remember. Every day I strive for the perfect, definitive, best morning glory shot. Every day I come a little bit closer. There is no such thing. That's why I keep shooting.

The growl, roar and beep of logging machinery was especially loud this morning, a bit less than two miles to the east of us. They're taking down a large tract of timber to drill a massive oil well.

This is probably the last photo I'll have of Longview Acres' little shed. The house came down weeks ago. 

The house site, straight on. 

I feel compelled to record what they're doing, what was here before they did it, and what they've left us to drive slowly by.

I still can't wrap my mind around this forest being gone. To be fair, it wasn't wilderness. Nothing around here is. Much of it was white pine plantation, that had been selectively logged, and it had grown up to black raspberries, greenbriar, and the happy confetti of red and sugar maple saplings, the kind of riotous tangle that's full of foxes, coy-wolves, deer, raccoons, squirrels, box turtles, American redstarts, yellow-throated warblers, hooded warblers, wild turkeys, and even ruffed grouse and bobcat--I had seen all of these creatures in and coming out of this tract. I'd even released a painstakingly rehabilitated one-eyed smashed box turtle right here years ago, where I found him when he'd been hit two years earlier. I'd sent him in a box poked full of holes by overnight Fed-Ex to New York State where a wonderful woman kept him for a year and a half while she healed his wounds. And then I'd driven 3 1/2 hours to Pittsburgh to pick him up in the autumn so he could go back to his home to sleep out the winter, to have another chance at living.

 So much for him, and so much for his home.

So much for our hearts as we drive slowly by. Looks like we'll have some handsome chain-link fencing to admire soon.

So these mornings I get up early and walk a mile east through the haymeadows and into the woods, where, if I drop below a steep berm, the sound of all this destruction is a little less obnoxious. At that point I'm three miles from it, and I can still hear it clearly, but it's not as bad as it is at the house. There I sit quietly with Chet and watch the birds and animals coming in to a game feeder on our neighbor's place. There's always action there, and it soothes me to see these animals take their corn breakfast. I don't think much of shooting deer over corn, but that's how it's done around here. It's all game cameras and time stamps and figuring out when that monster buck comes in so we can be there on opening day to drop him. Hmmm. However being an opportunist I am not above watching what comes in to their corn, and I absolutely love the beautiful paths my neighbors maintain through the woods, and the fact that they let me walk them whenever I wish. That privilege, I couldn't pay for. These men take good care of their land; they plant food crops for deer, and they are kind and friendly to me, and I respond in kind. They're good neighbors. They've bought a huge tract of land to leave it for wildlife. Far as I'm concerned, they can take all the deer they want. There are always more deer coming up.

This morning I walked out the driveway with Chet and I saw something I thought might be a white grocery bag that had blown in.  I quickly realized that it was the white belly of a deer, laid out in the grass.

I knew right away that someone had shot her, probably from the road less than 200' away. They'd probably pulled into our turnaround to get a bead on her. Oh, the bitter irony.

Disgust and anger welled up in me as I looked down on this little doe, wasted. So small--but nothing about her looked like this year's fawn. No trace of spots on the flanks.  Something about her domed forehead opened a cold sinking drain in my heart.

I knelt and looked closely at her forehead. One eye was higher than the other, an asymmetry I knew all too well.

I fell to my belly and looked at her right eye. Clouded and protruding, sightless, even in life.


They had killed my Ellen.

Blood still pulsed out of a terrible arrow wound that had smashed into the point of her left shoulder, into her heart and lungs. 

I hesitated a long time before I laid a hand on her. The pulsing blood, I could not explain, for she was stiff and still, her eyes already drying. When I touched her, she was cold. There was still a little warmth behind her ears, that had hung at such funny angles in life. Did her heart beat on? No, she was gone. Ah, Ellen. What have they done to you?

 The creep who killed this doe was engaging in a sport, widely practiced in my area, of dropping deer from their cars. What they do--and I saw three of them coming out together, in their loud beater cars and trucks just last night!--is shoot deer from their vehicles for fun. They drive by, looking straight ahead, and they never look me in the face. They are on a mission, but they aren't after meat.  They simply want to kill something. I can see it in their filthy faces as they pass. They leave them to rot and go kill something else. I find the carcasses everywhere, year around. And now I find Ellen, right out my driveway. If I could shoot a gun, I'd shoot out their tires and leave them to walk. If I had a rocket launcher...

 They wouldn't have recognized this doe, the way I could at hundreds of yards, just by the way she held her head. Had they known that hippie woman who lives in that tower house had loved her and written about her since 2009, they probably would have gotten an even bigger thrill out of dropping her and leaving her to lie right where I couldn't miss her. No, this dear little being was just something to sight the bow in with. Not even worth getting out of the truck to take. It takes a lot of skill to spotlight and shoot a half-blind elderly doe from your car at 200'.

The wound was a triangular slice, the hairs along it neatly clipped as with surgical shears, no burning such as you'd see with a bullet wound. So much for my theory that bow hunters take a more sporting approach to it all. 

I laid my hand on her domed forehead, the way I had so often longed to in life. Two tears rolled down. I did not weep. I couldn't. I think I've cried all the tears I have. I feel numb now, but oddly enough, stronger than I ever have. I feel I've been fired in a long, very slow kiln until my heart's crusted over.

I said a prayer of thanks that I had been so fortunate as to know her, to follow her through winter, spring and summer, for seven years. To see her through the terrible pain of losing one eye, to see her come out the other side, to see her grow her hair back, and pregnant this spring, with a swollen udder! at perhaps 9 years of age. A Methuselah among deer.

Here, they end.

The last time I photographed her: May 22, 2016, snorting at me.  I glimpsed her along the driveway once more on a summer evening, and it looked like she had two fawns with her, and she at least 9 years of age. But I can't be sure they were both hers. The only thing I'm sure of now is that I will never see her again.

Ellen was a survivor, until the wrong person rolled up to her and drew back his bow. I pity him, because he never knew her, because, taking it away so callously, he doesn't know that life is a gift.

What a gift Ellen was.

Go now, with your eyes that both work, with your supple neck, no longer kinked and lowered; with two ears that swivel as they should. There is a much better place for you than here. Thank you for everything, sweet Ellen. I'll be looking for your face in this year's fawns.


Damn it. I am crying for you. All I hope is that it was a quick death. Ellen, where ever you are now, the grass will always be green and there won't be any deep snow. You won't have to worry about crossing the road, being hungry or afraid of men with guns or bow and arrows.

No words.... at least none I can post on a family-rated blog :'''''(

Well, I sobbed over this one.Damn.

Oh Julie - my heart is breaking. Your love for Ellen had been transposed to my heart as well. I loved the pictures of her crooked face and your encounters with her. Thank you for sharing her story and even her cruel end.

Blubbering at my desk. I am a wreck today. I watched 'Before the Flood' last night so I woke up today particularly raw. I have some things to look forward to, for sure. My kids coming home and their warm embrace. The Zick talk I fought hard to secure (squee!) The holidays.
But also, unfortunately I also am barreling towards the 1st anniversary of losing my mom, and the dark winter where I struggle to write and be productive.
I look forward to your posts, because they are always enlightening and help me feel connected when I can't go find the connection myself.
And I look forward to reading about Ellen.
I am SO so sorry for your loss, and for what is going on around you. My heart breaks for you.
RIP sweet little crooked Ellen.

Oh, Ellen. Oh, Julie. Sob.... How much more pain can a heart take before something else breaks as well?

That just sickens me those jerks shoot for sport--who are these people, another species of humankind? We had someone shoot a deer from the road as we awoke one morning at our Lopez island cabin, a mere 100 feet up the hillside. The jerks took the animal up the road to state land to field dress it, and we discovered it later when our dog ran off trail to snack on the guts.

It is just gut wrenching that Ellen died in such a way. She was so lucky to have your adoration and now, this dedication into history. She was a survivor!

I'm so sorry.

Sobbing over Ellen. She couldn't know how loved she was because of that hippie woman who lives in the tower house. How I wish her killers would read this and be transf formed into people whose hearts would be broken.

Posted by Gail Spratley November 2, 2016 at 11:57 AM

I cannot fathom how for some, death equals sport.

Low life f@#$&ers. My first response was not to shoot out their tires but you are a much kinder person than I.

I saw the photo you posted on instagram with your hand over lovely Ellen's head and I knew instantly what must have happened. It's just wrenching. No words for it. But what a lot of joy you've given to all of us who read your words about little Ellen over the years.

There are no words. I find myself repeating that statement when I am gob-smacked at the horrific inhumanity of humanity. How can it be? Are we so callused, so devoid of thinking, feeling, understanding--that killing animals somehow makes us MANLY, BIG, POWERFUL?
No, I am not crying--not because I am not moved. I most certainly am. But because even more than being moved I am angry. And I don't know where to direct that anger, or how to put it to positive use.

I hope sweet Ellen knows how many people are crying for her today.
We've been watching a deer gradually disappear on the edge of the hayfield that we walk through regularly - hit by a car rather than by spotlighting morons, although we certainly have our share of those. It's been a while since I've *known* a deer because of a physical anomaly. For many years we had a dear deer friend who had a broken ankle that "healed" such that she walked on the side of her bent foot. Every year she brought her fawns around to our yard. Until one year she didn't. I'm glad I didn't have to find her dead, and for now I'm glad that aside from knowing that the deer that died up the road last week was certainly one of *ours* I don't have a way of particularly identifying him or to any other of his family members. It was a young buck - who probably visited our yard as a fawn and as a one year old. But I didn't know his name.
Rest in peace, Ellen.

This is so sad. Such a waste. Big hugs.

Oh God Julie! It is all too much. I am so saddened by Ellen's death. Thank you for telling your truth and hers.

Sobbing. Just sobbing, both Tom and I. From now on, we'll be even more awed by our morning glories, mysteriously, miraculously reaching for the Ellen-gloried autumn sky.

So heartbreaking. As for deer years she lived a good life and her genes will live on in her offspring. Karma will take care of the one who shot the arrow.

Oh! Oh no!!!

Heart broken, tears falling, sharing your grief.

Posted by Karen Wiebe November 2, 2016 at 1:56 PM

Julie, my heart aches with you for the lands around your home and for Ellen. I have followed your blog for many years now and feel very close to you and your reflections of the world, and I know I'm one of many who feel that way. Your grief is our grief and Ellen's memory will ripple far and beyond.

I'm so very sorry, Julie. Your stories about Ellen touched my heart.

As I was reading, When you started talking about the deer, my mind went immediately to Ellen, but not because I was anticipating that something bad had happened. I was just suddenly wondering how she is doing with all the commotion in her territory, and winter coming, etc. To learn that she had been killed, and in such a ruthless and cavalier manner, was a terrible shock. I am sorry for your loss. Thank you for honoring her, in life and death, and thank you for sharing her with us.

I'm so sorry. My heart goes out to you.

This is so sad. Too much evil in the world. You did a beautiful job telling us about her. I also felt like I knew her.

There are alot of good hunters and i applaud and respect them.However for these amoral,callous cretins i have nothing but disgust!!! #F

I loved reading your posts about Ellen and her peculiarly crooked head and lovely face.
I just can't believe that she's dead because someone intentionally killed her for the sake of killing an animal. How can this even be? Alas, it happened.
My heart feels heavy and sick over this needless and cruel death.
I am so sad for you and all of us who "knew" Ellen through you. She was a grand survivor, I was inspired by Ellen and how she lived her life with compromised vision.
What a gem she was and always will be.
I'm just so sad.

In a world full of darkness we must strive to be light. So very sorry Julie and Ellen.

Julie, my heart is broken over this, and I don't even know you, let alone Ellen. I do feel the tears trying to well up. I hate hunting in general, but this kind of stuff just reminds me of how depraved most people in this world are. This is all I can write at the moment.

Sick sad tears.

Posted by Marianna Sadowski November 2, 2016 at 4:37 PM

My jaws are aching with the effort of not crying out loud. There's so much to cry about in this world. Couldn't we just have the sweet pleasure of a homely little doe, living her pure little life in rural Ohio? Couldn't we just have that?

Damn. Just damn.

Oh Julie, I am so very sorry. This world has so many heartbreaking moments. Why so many of our species are so filled with hate and destruction, I will never understand. Other species don't seem to harbor the kind of hate and disregard for life. I hope you will see her again in a much better place.

Because you made her known to us, we grieve with you. How many of us cry over the random deer carcasses on the side of the road, victims of fast moving vehicles? I see so many where I live, and I hate that such beautiful creatures die alone, unacknowledged and ultimately forgotten. Our Ellen will always be remembered. Thank you Julie.

Oh god, not your Ellen. Our Ellen. Not your woods....

The evil that men do every day of their lives--it's just too much. Just too much.

Thank you for sharing Ellen. I enjoyed all of your posts about her, knowing the individual in wildlife is your gift to us. I'm so sorry to read this, I don't have words. I think it is special how she stayed close to your property all these years, safe until the end. Goodnight sweet Ellen, I'll miss you.

My heart feels raw. I'm so very sorry.

Julie, I'm so sorry. I loved reading about her.

Thank you for sharing Ellen with us, not only her life through the years, but her tragic end. I have heard a school of thought that says that we choose the time of our death... that no one dies "before their time". If this is true, perhaps Ellen looked around at all the desolation in her world and thought, "This is not my world anymore. I am ready to move on." Perhaps the part of her that was ready to go resonated with something in that monster that needed something to kill. Mind you, that doesn't make me hate that monster any less; I would gladly see him shot "for sport". Sometimes, I really really hate and am ashamed of my species.

My heart is aching for you and sweet Ellen. Thanks for sharing her story and your last sacred moments with her. So sorry for your loss Julie.

I'm raw and vulnerable today for too many other reasons--but this just sent me over the edge. Dammit, dammit, dammit. Julie, I'm so sorry. But bless you for having the words and the gumption to keep posting for the rest of us. Please don't stop.

Oh, my. I am so sad to learn of Ellen's death. She was a sweet creature that had survived so much. I'm glad you chronicled her life for all of us.

So sad and senseless. Thank you Julie for your dedication to this sweet girl. My heart breaks with you.

Julie.. I am more sorry than words can ever say. This is always the worst time of year for me. The loss of all the beautiful creatures, the sound of gunshots in the surrounding woods... and now reading this. My heart aches for all the little souls that are senselessly taken from the people who love them.Sorry for your loss.

Heart. Broken. Thank you for sharing her story and her beauty, even to the bitter end.

I feel so bad for you and Ellen. We'll send Jason Borne after those creepos for you. We'll all miss Ellen. So sorry Julie.

So very sorry for Ellen, for you, and for all the rest of us that have to deal with the havoc dealt by low-life idiots that kill for the fun of it. I once found a lovely doe dead in front of our house, shot by a brave road hunter. I truly hope they have to pay in another life, but that doesn't help repair the damage they leave behind. God speed sweet Ellen, know that you were loved and will be missed by many.

I am so sorry about Ellen. Bad enough that she was taken, but to be taken by poachers in such a manner....sickening. I am not anti-hunting, and I am grateful for your kind words about the fellows who hunt near you on their game land. However that is not hunting; it is just wanton killing. I have so enjoyed your posts about her. And as for the husband's family and ours have farmed our land for 74 years. At one time we were surrounded by other small, family dairy farms. As they went out, we rented the fields from them for hay and corn ourselves until they were sold and sold again and again. Now there are developments all around us, houses everywhere, fields paved over, woods gone, ponds filled. I can see the golden arches from our pasture and woods, and the houses to the east are almost to our fence. I think we will be the last people to farm here. Such losses all across America.

Tears feeling your pain and for Ellen, if pain can be beautiful, you mastered & shared it. Thank you Julie. ❤️❤️

Julie, my heart breaks for brave Ellen, for you and for us all. An
No one since E.B. White has made me feel so connected to the beauty that you describe, or such sorrow for its loss.

My heart breaks. I am so sorry.

No words. Anger and sorrow and numbness.

Tears rolling down my cheeks, you had made Ellen so real to me with your stories. People who do that need to be hurt, darn it. I'm sorry for your loss, I guess it sort of goes along with the land being destroyed for drilling and everything else.

Thoughts, prayers, and thanks for your writing,
Lucy (Troy, Ohio)

"The wound is the place where the light enters you." Rumi

I'm wiping tears away, while thinking of the perfect light that entered Ellen as she slipped away.

"People who do that need to be hurt"? They do that because they ARE hurt - all splinters and rocks inside, and closed off from compassion, respect, any sense of love or regard. Sad, and frightening too. We must work to not let our own hearts get walled off and hard.

I'm sorry so much beauty is being taken from you this autumn. If you allow it to carve into your depths, it will inevitably create more space for joy some ways down the road.In the meantime, continue writing, and sharing. So many people care!

I am so very sorry for your loss, but I am thankful that you know what happened to
Ellen. So close to your home where she spent many, many good hours of her life. So thankful for all you provided for her and her fawns and will continue to provide for
them. I am thankful for all you teach us, for your science side and your very warm, loving side. May God comfort your heart in all the hard things going on right now.

Posted by Pat Kinser November 4, 2016 at 7:22 AM

Weeping for Ellen and for you.

I can't believe this. Why oh why did they have to kill Ellen? You introduced her to us in so many posts and were always delighted when you caught sight of her. I was delighted right along with you. Dear dear Ellen. Julie, I am so sorry and I am sorry that these people are so damaged that they have no feelings anymore. At least not authentic feelings. (And like others who commented, my feelings are all over the place.) Oh dear dear Ellen. Will you perhaps bury her on your land? Or will she be offered up to the Great Spirit to feed other wonderful creatures? I don't understand much about the world I live in but reading your blogs have always brought me peace, even when the news isn't good. It's because you stand witness to that which needs to be witnessed and honored. The good and the bad. Love, Mollie

Not Ellen! I don't shed tears often but as cathartic they are I am. I've aided my own "Ellen" this summer from a very bad knee (suspect from whacking other does for corn) She has a fawn & when I've seen them I've rushed out "special feed". She's all better. now but as nature does I wish her the best....
I'm told by wildlife friend that. 9 years is amazing for a deer. You done good! So sorry!!

All of your friends here have already "said" it well. We grieve with you and care, and I hope you can feel the love. Thinking of you. Kim in PA

We all loved Ellen and we all love you. This just breaks our hearts.
Thank you for honoring her life, and ours, with your passionate prose. Xom

Oh Julie, I am so sorry for what this autumn is taking from you, from all of us as we've come to love your woods as much as our own and come to love all the animals who inhabit your world as much as our own.

That fellow human beings are so fearful, angry, and dead inside is hard to comprehend. Their world must be so ugly and small. They make me sad, but also afraid of what's to come.

I am so glad you have your dear sweet Chet by your side.

Goodbye Ellen. You have brought great joy to this world and will not be forgotten.

How did I miss this post? I can't believe what I've just read, how my heart is breaking, how enraged I am. Oh Julie, this world... what has become of this world? Rest in peace, beautiful Ellen. I apologize to you on behalf of the humans with whom you tried to peacefully share our planet. Sigh.

So so sad for this end of Ellen's story.

For many reasons, I was ready for a cry today; I'm so sorry this is the
reason the tears are now falling. Ellen didn't deserve this end; you don't deserve
the pain. You brought her alive for all of us who never saw her in person. The cretins who did this deserve to know far worse pain than we are all feeling now. My sympathies for your loss.

I am so saddened by this; she touched my heart and I so enjoyed your writing about Ellen through the years. Such a senseless loss.

if you do not eat it, what is the point? target practice? so creepy. My most horrid deer story- and I live in a total suburb but the deer hang here and eat everything- is that the dog and I were walking one rainy dark night and I saw a deer with two heads! ug, a fawn head protruding- and I checked, both dead on a suburban cul-de-sac.
Not sure if they were hit by a car or if it was just too cold and unforgiving for birth. Fawns in late November- not good, but it was awful. Who are these people who like and bring death to living things?

I'm so sad to see Ellen gone. :( :( I loved reading about her and the way you knew her and loved her. Thank you for sharing the story of her life.

I have a lot less empathy for humanity than I once did. Sometimes I feel that acting kindly and respectfully toward a stranger is just a bad habit I haven't let go of yet, because I honestly believe that the vast majority doesn't deserve it. After all, if the majority was like you, these people would be tracked down and locked away, in stead of ignored with indifference. What a world we live in, where killing for fun and profit is tolerated.

Raczoon, why would you want to become one of "THEM"? If we admire Julie, and it sounds like we both do, why no emulate HER love and compassion and be a light in an ugly world?

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