The dog lets me know that the yearling deer is once again on the hill behind our house, nuzzling for acorns under the rusty-haired oaks.
This, of course, is not the same yearling I wrote about last Fall and Winter. This is 2008's fawn, pushed out by Mom so she can raise her newest baby.
I've seen this one in the front yard, drinking from the birdbath. I noticed the petunias and geraniums, the leaves of the frosted cherry-tomato plants and the wide leaves of the lingering green beans all have been nibbled by some fearless, young deer.
She (or he, I'm not sure) should be fearless, for she was born here, up under the oaks. All of her mother's fawns have slithered out of her in the safety of our upper acres, which are fenced from dogs, even ours, by sturdy chainlink.
This one noses around in the wet leaves that have been dropped by recent storms, and finding what she is seeking, she lifts her head slightly and chews on the acorns that will help to sustain her all winter. As long as it is a mild winter without several feet of snow which would prevent her from being able to paw down to the tasty morsels.
She treads lightly down the ancient deer path and settles quietly into the spot she favors because it is sheltered by the small oaks and because her mother's amniotic fluids have soaked into the earth over the years, her mother's...and her grandmother's most likely as well.
I see her silhouette, just her slim neck and her large ears, as she rests, watchful yet secure in a spot that speaks to her spirit in ways she will never contemplate or care to understand.