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Wednesday, June 08, 2005 

Random choices

Dad and I were in the car on the way home from work. It had been my second worst shift yet and I had just finished telling him about it.

Sensing that I didn’t want to talk about it anymore he commented that mom had been to town and to Orangeville looking for a certain kind of wine and that neither L.C.B.O. store had it. The only one that did was the one in Caledon East that we sometimes stop at if we decide we want a scenic route home.

“We could have picked it up for her the other day if we’d known,” he said. “Hell, we could pop over now and do it.”

“Sounds good,” I said, still growling mentally over the shift.

So we turned right at the next set of lights and traveled along a busy paved country road for a few minutes in silence. We went around a broad, gradual curve and dad slowed down part way around.

“Look!” he said. “A doe! And she’s got a fawn with her!”

They were standing in the field, just on the other side of the fence on the other side of the road. She was tall, brown and delicate. Her bone white tail was clearly visible. The fawn stood huddled close to her. About a month old, it was tiny and all legs. White spots covered its back.

We were past them in a second.

“I’ve never seen a fawn so young,” I said. My smile was as broad as my glower a few seconds before had been dark.

There weren’t any cars right behind us, so Dad pulled onto the shoulder. He checked both ways and pulled a quick, expert and slightly risky U-turn. He was going to drive up close with the horn blaring to scare them from the road. Huge trucks were speeding both ways at irregular intervals and he’d seen enough fawns on the side of the road to know its chances of surviving an attempt at crossing.

He didn’t have to though, because they were bounding away from the road even as we started the U-turn a couple hundred yards away. She seemed to bounce across the field. We sat in the car on the shoulder after the U-turn and watched with big smiles as the fawn kept perfect pace with her. Then with frowns as they ran in a big circle back toward the road. Then with curses as we lost sight of them in the long grass behind the fence.

Dad shook his head.

“She’s going to try to cross,” he said.

And she did.

She popped up out of the ditch and stood on the shoulder. She looked left and right and when the way was clear ran gingerly across the road. Deer don’t like the feel of pavement. In the other ditch she flew over the fence and bounded up and down through the long grass for ten yards. Then turned to look back at the road.

The fawn hadn’t crossed.

“Fuck,” I said.

Dad shook his head again. He knew what had happened. He took his foot off the brake and we rolled forward on the shoulder toward the place she had come out of the ditch.

“He’s caught in the fence,” dad said.

I repeated my last comment. As dad put the car in park we saw the fawn struggling. The long grass was pulled as the wire fence moved against it in time to the fawn’s struggles.

Without a word – or even a glance at each other – we got out of the car in unison.

We walked slowly to the ditch, making soothing noises. The fawn stopped moving and just looked at us. We stopped and looked at it.

Soft brown fur, delicate white patterning on the back, small head, big brown eyes and twig-thick legs. It was beautiful in the way that wild animals are beautiful.

It put its head down toward the ground and tried to hide. The doe had picked a good place to cross the fence for it was broken down for about ten feet. It wasn’t good enough though. The fawn had made it half over, hooking the top wire on its back hips. The fence had enough give in it that he – I’m using that arbitrarily as there wasn’t time to sex it – was able to touch the ground on both sides. He was just hooked and couldn’t get unhooked.

Not by himself anyway.

“Wait until there’s a break in traffic,” dad said.

When there was dad reached down and picked him up behind the front legs. He bleated, loud and long and continuously. He was kicking up a storm.

“Unhook him,” dad said as I was reaching down to do just that, careful not to catch a sharp hoof in the hand.

Unhooked, he kicked himself free of my hands. Dad looked both ways and carried him across the road. He stopped struggling part way across. Dad set him on the shoulder. He tried to stand but his legs gave out. He tried again with the same result. I was sure he’d snapped a leg on the fence, but the third time was the charm. He got to his feet and disappeared into the ditch. Dad later told me that he ran right into that fence, bounced back then tried again and cleared it.

I missed that as I crossed the road. He bounded through the long grass to his mother.

Dad and I watched for a moment until they disappeared. Then we drove away.

“Okay,” I said. “That makes up for the rest of the day.”