deersusanThey appeared at my door this afternoon: Next-door neighbor Dave, one-more-house-down neighbor Bill, and Dave’s young son Logan. “Oh…dear…” I mumbled when I realized that what Logan had in his arms was not a dangling puppy, but a newborn fawn. All three laughed at my unintended play on words as I gathered the sweet smelling bundle into my arms. “It was in the road, just walking along. Should we take it back,” Logan asked, his voice deep with concern.

Two deer were seen dead on the roads that morning, the men told me. “No. I’ll take him to Wildcare. He shouldn’t be wandering the roads at this age. His mother is probably one of those deer on the road. “I thanked them all for bringing him to me, especially Logan. Blessedly, they had not fed the little buck, nor kept him longer than it took them to get him to me. Milk—such a temptation when you have a hungry little mouth to feed—would have made him sick, possibly to death. These days, rehab centers have specially formulated fawn food (and skunk, coon, rabbit, possum, and rodent food), and frozen colostrum if the fawn is a newborn.

Quietly, I carried him to our bedroom and set him down. “Oh, you beautiful little puff of a thing,” I whispered. He sniffed my face, and I felt the cloud soft hairs of his chin touch my lips. Often, when fawns fall on hard times, they show it. But Puff was still all perfection. Not a tick or a flea or a speck of dirt blemished his sleek, spotted pelt. Inside his ears, his skin shone with the luster of a pearl. He couldn’t have been more than a couple days old at most. Slender as a zipper, and still tentative on his stilt-like legs, the tiny buck bore all the markings of a “just arrived” baby.

He stepped cautiously across the carpet, stepping over my outstretched ankles, and I noticed instantly that one of his legs was bent wrong, the small hoof tilted just slightly to the side. I knew the best thing I could do for him was to put him in the car and get him to Wildcare. A vet would need to see that leg, and Puff’s lips needed a bottle.

Years ago, I read a book about the tiny relationships we each cultivate perhaps briefly in any given day: a friendly exchange with the delivery man, some laughing banter with the checker at the grocery store, talk of spring weather and flowers with the elderly woman in line at the post office. These relationships, although brief, can add needed moments of connection in our mostly disconnected and overly busy days.

And so it was with Puff and me. For less than an hour we journedy together, and I left him at Wildcare with a kiss to his perfumed forehead. Yet, his essense remains with me. For this evening, I am a newborn fawn with jeweled spots, smelling of the forest. I am sweet and fresh and gentle and full of trust.

May you walk in beauty on cabable legs. And may tiny relationships resurrect your sore heart many times a day.

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