Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Of fawns and slippers

Two blogs that I enjoy reading even though I do not always leave comments are Far Side of 50 and Moments of Mine. The blogs of both of these women yesterday brought back some memories that I just want to touch on before I launch into today's work.

Some years ago now, way before the highway expanded into a four-lane, a short county road swept by our house and connected directly with the main highway. Our driveway met the county road about 20 feet from the intersection, which gave us a direct outlet to the main highway. Getting to town was as simple as making a sharp right turn at the end of the driveway.

At that time, I had the contract to clean the post office. That job had flexible hours: I could go in whenever I felt like it, but I usually left every morning very early to the job. It was easier to clean the lobby before post office opened at 8:00. One morning, at about this time of the year, I made the sharp right onto the highway and saw a horrific thing. A fawn, perhaps a bit older than the one so beautifully captured by the camera on Wanda's blog, but still showing some spots, had attempted to cross the road but didn't quite make it. It had apparently been hit a glancing blow by a car and had been thrown onto the shoulder. Although it was still thrashing, it was mortally wounded, and by the time I swerved to pull in behind it, it had died.

I stood there looking at it and watching its eyes glaze over, I cried a bit, and then, without thinking too much about it, I loaded it into the back seat, drove back to the house, and butchered it. There was enough meat for several meals, and scraps for soup and stew.

The conservation department has rules about the disposition of dead deer on the highway and I shouldn't have taken it. But I figured that several hours in the hot sun before the officials got around to sending a truck and picking it up would ruin what little meat it did have. So, pragmatist that I am, I bent the rules a bit.

And then another memory was evoked by Far Side's post of the beautiful Lady Slipper orchids. About 20 years ago - or even farther back than that - someone I had met at the local chapter of the Audubon society (or maybe it was a guy at the District Ranger's office, where I was also the janitor), old me about a spot along a creek where we went swimming where I could find a patch of Lady Slipper orchids. With the directions came a strict warning not to tell anybody where they were. To see them, we had to walk downstream - literally in the stream - for about a mile and then take a small feeder creek to the right, and there on the banks of the creek would be the patch of orchids.

So, the kid and I got on our shorts and our old tennis shoes and we walked down the stony stream, which was not more than waist deep in most spots. Just like the man said, there was a small tributary to the right, and we walked down that, and there, was a marvelous display of the orchids. My son really didn't care about the orchids, he just wanted the trip to the creek. But I was stunned at their beauty. And then we turned around and walked back, which was quite a workout because now were going against the current. And we told nobody what we had seen.

And now I have to collect my thoughts about days of note that are important to our extended family all happening this week and write something brilliant in a few days.


Cloudia said...

Today my mind is empty.
yours is NOT!
A sparkling post, vivid with life and thought and emotion and secret orchids.
Glory of the web: someone is blooming as someone else is dorment (but posting pics ;-)
Aloha my fellow former janitor!

Comfort Spiral

Wanda said...

Thanks Leilani for visiting whether you comment or not...
I would have walked down that creek too...I love seeing things no one else has seen...like rocks in the hillside that have just been uncovered by erosion down by our creek in the woods...

Far Side of Fifty said...

I had to come and check out your slippers..your story was lovely! Thanks for visiting..not everyone comments everytime they visit..I am glad that you enjoyed the Lady Slippers:)