Tuesday, October 7, 2008

When an Apple is a Quince!

Late Sunday morning (21st of September), Joe bursts into the room, “Come quick!” This is short hand for there is an animal outside that you need to see. We run to closest window in the bathroom and look out the small window. There in the shadows by the pines is Apple. He strolls a bit and then stops dead with his ears twitching all about. His mommy walks out calmly and stands behind him. Whatever has spooked Apple is of no concern to his mommy. Apple crouches a little and stretches out his neck. His skin is just crawling. The calico has been about the yard of late, and I think that Apple is shortly to meet his first cat. Something much larger than a cat springs out of the touch-me-not screen and rockets past Apple. He spins and takes out after it.

“IT’S ANOTHER FAWN!” I exclaim.

“Did you know there were two?” Joe asks.

“No…because there aren’t two fawns back there. There is no way that there was another fawn that I didn’t know about!”

The two fawns come to a stop, and I blurt out, “Look, there wasn’t another fawn because they aren’t siblings! That fawn is smaller; it is a good week and a half to two weeks younger than Apple.” The new fawn is quickly named Quince, keeping the name in the rose family. Quince is clearly in control bucking and pronking, and leaving Apple behind to eat her dust. She may be small but she is spunky!

“Is there another deer?”

“Must be, she’s probably in the thicket, because it is very unlikely that Apple’s mommy would have adopted an orphan.”

Apple’s mommy slips back behind the touch-me-not to rest in the lay by there behind the flowers. Apple and Quince follow. I watch a while longer, and I am rewarded for my patience. Quince burst through the bright yellow butterflies feeding on the touch-me-nots. The pretty little fawn and the butterflies caught up in her leap are airborne in a carefree dance! Such a sight, the little fawn circling in the lawn her absolute joy uncontainable, the delight of unfetter play translates across species and I giggle for both of us. The youngster finally runs for cover, called back softly by her mother softly in a voice way beyond my hearing from inside the house.

I know that they are resting and hiding, but I cannot help but be drawn back to the window hoping to catch a glimpse once again of such delightful exuberance. Lo and behold, I notice a silhouette by the sweet gum. Is it Apple? Too big. Oh! It is Quince’s mommy. The doe steps out into the pines. She is smaller and more delicate than Apple’s mom is. Her fur is tawny darkening into an almost black back. The beautiful dark doe gingerly strolls beneath the pines and Quince quickly follows running circles around her. Dark doe takes a few running steps caught up in her offspring’s gamboling play. She walks on, but as she passes from protective shade to the exposure of sunlight, she becomes very alert and cautious. The relaxed deer of seconds earlier is gone. Her ears swivel listening, she takes a couple steps pauses, looks, listens. Quince darts about the yard pausing a moment to take a quick lick at the salt rock. Dark doe slowly stalks on; she looks behind her and calls out to Quince to close rank. They pause at the bottom of the yard looking down the narrow strip before the lake there behind the neighbor’s fence. She makes her move crouching slightly, and the two trot off out of sight.

Quince seemed a bit too young to be moved, but perhaps something disturbed them. Whatever it was, it must have been very threatening for the doe to move her baby in the middle of the day! Apple’s mommy was probably not ready to join other deer yet. Clearly, Apple’s mommy is not the lowest stature doe in the herd since it is Quince’s mommy who left the thicket. Apple’s mom obviously did not tolerate her there with Apple yet. May be dark doe is Apple’s older sister. Young does often give birth near their mother’s fawning ground. Her inexperience was obvious since she was moving a small fawn abroad so much during daylight; also, that she is so much smaller than Apple’s mommy may illustrate her youth.

I glanced out the window again, really not expecting to see any more, when they came back. Dark doe so very nervous making her way step, step, pause across the yard. Quince absolutely confident and fearless, in the wake of her mommy, fools around as they progress. Dark doe pauses before the bird feeders a few yards from the house. It was that classic deer pose of one front foot raised, ears forward, and eyes bright looking to see if it is safe. I reach for the binoculars that hang by the kitchen window to get a better look (sorry-I never think to grab the camera). She is truly a fine looking doe. They pass by the house in that hesitating walk and leave the yard. I wish them luck.

An Apple and a Quince not a bad harvest for such a small yard!

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