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Pinky and Flag: Post Gun Season Check-In

Sunday, December 18, 2016

December 14, 2016.

The new snowfall makes a fairy landscape of the standing bluestem, goldenrod and Virginia pines. Three deer are moving through it, the pinkening sky aglow behind them. 

 Many mornings, when I look out at first light, there are deer in the meadow. I pretty much know who they are. But gun season for whitetails just ended, and you never know who is going to make it through and who will never be seen again. I never got close enough to identify this trio, but I had a feeling I knew them.

That same afternoon, three deer tiptoed into the sideyard. The big one looked like Boss Doe.

A second adult doe hung toward the back. With her indistinct eyerings and very small bib, I didn't recognize her at first.

 Going back into my photos, I found her first from one taken on Jan. 21, 2014. She was also an associate of Ellen's. See how buffy her eye and nose rings are? See how she's got a tiny black triangle on her lower jaw, that looks like a tooth poking out? Her markers are subtle, but consistent.

Though this doe is larger than Ellen, she submits to Ellen's gentle suggestion that she move on (by laying her chin on the big doe's back). Jan. 21, 2014. She knows Ellen's next move is a BAP with her sharp hoof.

Here she is again, from Feb. 21, 2016.  Ellen is telling her to stuff it, and getting away with it. 

Today, she was holding her left eye closed. Uh-oh. Not good. I'll have to watch out for this one, to see how she fares with that eye.
I would imagine it's all too easy to run a twig into your eye, get a scratched cornea when you're bounding through the thickets. Poor dear. Hoping it doesn't go the way poor Ellen's eye did.

Two fawns accompanied the does. Hey, little man, I know you!

It was Ellen's son Pinky! See his pinkish nose, his little buttons, the white spats on his feet?

Pinky, Dec. 14, 2016.

Meanwhile, the second fawn moved out under the pines and began eating oak leaves. 

I was immediately arrested by her feet. Look at those white spats!

It was Pinky's twin sister Flag! Her wide white eye rings, bright bib, and white stripes down the back of her forelegs were all in evidence. I had never seen her feet before, so their markings were a nice surprise. Figures her feet would be flashy too. What a pretty girl she is. 

Even with her mouth stuffed with dry leaves. I'm guessing she was feeling the need for a little roughage. I feel it, too, having just gone back on the Atkins diet in a sort of last-ditch holiday Hail Mary. Right when everybody's throwing Christmas cookies at you, that's the time to say no more. If you're a total masochist, at least. The shoe fits. Hurts, but it fits.

Flag, Dec. 14, 2016. Look at those eyebrows! And her fancy toe shoes!

I hope and pray Flag and Pinky will stay together and let me watch them grow up. It's the least I can do to honor little crooked Ellen, whom I still miss every day.  But seeing her in her children's faces helps a lot.

Ellen, Dec. 19, 2015--just a year ago.

 Pinky, every bit his mother's son. Pinky's not so flashy as Flag, but he will be when he gets his crown next summer. Look here at the shape of his white eyerings. The contrast between them and his darker forehead make him look a bit puzzled, in contrast to Flag's wide surprised look. 

For now, he's got a little yarmulke of snow, which plopped onto his sweet head while he was foraging for Japanese honeysuckle leaves. Eat hearty, my boy. Plenty of that stuff.

I was ecstatic to find my three friends still alive after gun season, to puzzle over and figure out the identity of the squinty doe; to have one more bit of identifying bling on Flag. Her hind feet, even whiter than the front ones. She's a magic fawn. The first time I saw her mother in 2009, she was exactly here, in this spot, giving me exactly that look.

Ellen, Feb. 2009. See her little white toe shoes?

Flag, Dec. 18, 2016. Her face isn't crooked; her neck isn't bent.
But she's Ellen, incarnate.
 The pine trunks are much thicker now, and the one Ellen was standing near has fallen down and died.  You can see its cut stump in Flag's picture. The leaning pine to the right has gone all yellow. It will come down this year. Planting those three pines was practically the first thing Bill and I did on moving into this house in December of 1992. And now they're ageing out.

The only constant is change. And genetics. Oh beautiful genetics. I see my DNA spooling out in my kids, and it humbles and amazes me. I know what they're going to say before they form the words. I understand them on a cellular level, because their cells came from mine. And I see more than a hint of Ellen in these fawns. I see her, healed and whole again, and seeing her gives me hope and joy and peace in a deeply troubled time.

Pinky frowns and asks, "Must you stare?" 

Oh Pinky. Yes. I must. I was a friend of your mama's. And besides, it's my job. Staring, and sharing. 

Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, joyous Kwanzaa, groovy Festivus to all you deer-lovers out there.


I was looking forward to reading this. How incredibly touching. Just like any proud mama, Ellen must be beaming to see this "write up" about her young ones. She thanks you.

Posted by Lucy from MN December 18, 2016 at 8:35 AM

Merry Christmas, Julie.
Wayne, PA

I just LOVE reading your blog. It just makes me happy. Have a great holiday with your beautiful kids!

Ellen's genes in this new generation. I hope they stay safe and come to visit often. Happy holidays to you, your beautiful family, and all the critters who pass through your yard.

Fabulous Julie, Merry Christmas to you and your family & extended family.♥

Oh, my. How sweet to read this.

Posted by Minnie Fleming December 18, 2016 at 5:05 PM

I made it all the way to "healed and whole again". Should have had a tissue handy.
Merry Christmas Julie!

Hooray! Good news for Pinky and Flag.

..."joy and hope and peace in a deeply troubled time..." Indeed. Thanks for this gift, and Merry Christmas to you all!

Posted by Another Heidi December 19, 2016 at 4:51 AM

Ohhh...just catching up on your last months here. Thank you as always! I can't read this on my little phone. I need the full screen experience. Makes me feel like I'm right there with you. Such joy :)

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