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July 24, 2024

Inner Peace: Witnessing sisterly love in nature

inner peace
RitaE stock photo from Pixabay
August 9, 2023

A broken leg would be expected to result in a quick death for a young deer, but Little Sister has gotten by with the help of her twin sibling

By Annie Katz

On my daily walks in the Siskiyou foothills, I study nature. This afternoon I learned something about my favorite neighborhood deer.

Annie Katz

Last summer, they were newborn spotted fawns. They’ve been together ever since, twin sisters. Last fall, one of them severely injured her left hind leg. I saw her in an empty horse pasture dragging her broken leg on the ground. She was panicky, looking all around for her sister.

I felt so sad for her. A few weeks earlier a cougar had killed two goats on the farm where I rent a cottage, and I thought the wounded doe would be an easy meal for the cougar. Then I wondered if I could help her in some way but I couldn’t imagine how. She was all alone and she couldn’t jump over a fence. I thought that if a predator didn’t get her, a farmer would put her out of her misery and eat venison for a few days. I prayed for her and then I spotted her sister, two pastures away, waiting for her twin to catch up. Then I walked on, filled with compassion and a sense of hopelessness.

A few weeks later I saw the wounded doe again. She was still dragging the hurt leg, and this time she and her sister were together. They were in an open area of evergreen trees and hedges between the farm where I live and the neighbor’s place. Here they have a lovely, unfenced haven with lots of hiding places. There’s a large pond, mature fruit trees, thick hedges, several rarely used buildings and easy access to the neighbor’s large backyard gardens. Since then, I’ve been looking for them every day when I walk. Seeing them fills me with hope and happiness. Even though the wounded one is much thinner than her unharmed twin, she is still alive, and I’ve named her Little Sister.

Her leg has healed. The foot on that leg is gone, but she uses the remaining stump for extra balance sometimes. Mainly she keeps the maimed leg held up and manages on three legs. She can’t run fast or jump fences, but she’s alive. When I see her, I stop, back away and become very still, giving the sisters plenty of time and space. Now I’m a normal, nonthreatening part of their world.

I’ve often wondered how Little Sister has survived all these months and what accommodations they’ve had to make to stay together. I study them, curious and fascinated, in the same way that they study me. Little Sister is hypervigilant, alert and still. They are usually very close together on these same few acres of land.

When I walked out to the road this afternoon, I saw Little Sister, frozen like a statue, watching me from a big front yard across the road. I stopped and stepped back to wait for her. She saw me, and then led her sister across the road closer to me but also closer to their usual haven.

I stayed still and they walked ahead of me beside a rail fence that separates the neighbor’s farm from the road. Then the healthier sister crawled under the lowest fence rail, and Little Sister scrambled after her to their adopted home.

I’d never seen deer crawling that way, their bellies on the ground and their long limbs awkwardly pulling and pushing their bodies under a fence. Maybe crawling is their way of adapting to an injury that I was sure would be fatal.

Nature teaches us so much about life, death and persistence, even in hard, uncertain, painful times. Those beautiful little deer are helping each other survive great trauma, and they’ve found a relatively safe place to live. I feel intimately connected to these gentle animals. I too have survived hardships, and with the help of loved ones, I’ve found a nurturing place to call home.

Annie Katz is a retired educator living in Ashland. She has studied philosophy and spiritual practices all her life and now writes novels for fun.

Want to contribute? Send 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Richard Carey (rcarey009@gmail.com).

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Jim


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