The Path Between the Thorns

on the WWU campus yesterday

I love the way the doe knows how to go
through the tall brambles: She ambles
her hips first to one side,
then another; tosses her nose high
to sniff the trails of air; and
proffers only a passing glance to
the chickadee on his slanted
branch. She knows the way;
she knows the turn of a hoof print
here, to the right of the wild rose brier;
there, past the tip of the raspberry twig;
she knows the sun even before
his fine arced dome appears
on the eastern horizon, and
she goes that way,
into the still of the dew
into the hills of the morning
in through that path between the thorns
that is so hard for us to see.
~Pat Campbell Carlson “Deer Wisdom”

The deer on our university campus stroll about like students themselves; they taste this, nibble that, try things out to see how they like it.   It is rare for a cougar to stray down from the hills to campus so the deer find themselves unchallenged as long as they stay off the asphalt competing with four wheeled predators.  The campus is a refuge from the world, an idyllic place to hang out, to see and be seen, just like students.

On our farm, they are not so unconcerned.  Life is very uncertain;  one never knows who can be trusted.  Thorns define the pathways and to be safe, a deer must be willingly swallowed by the thorns.  When I approach, she dives into an indiscernible opening in the brushy undergrowth and disappears, leaving no trace she was ever there.  Yet I know she is, peering out from her camouflaged sanctuary, waiting for her moment, undisturbed, in the sun.




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