A conversation with a deer

Deer are a big deal here in little old Ashland, where every neighborhood has its own deer herd. Whenever gardeners get together, the talk inevitably turns to the "evil deer" and their depredations. They're a nuisance in ways I needn't describe since you've undoubtedly heard it all.

But with all our committees, laws, aborted deer counts and general outrage, the one thing we haven't done is consult the deer themselves. So I decided to take it upon myself to interview a deer and get her take on the situation — straight from the deer's mouth, as it were. It wasn't hard to find one.

Me: Pardon me. Do you realize you're eating my roses?

Deer: Do I interrupt your dinner?

Me: I put a lot of work into growing those roses and now you're —

Deer: It's very much appreciated.

Me: While you're here perhaps I could ask you a few questions.

Deer: Sure, if it doesn't take too long. I hear the neighbor's ceanothus calling.

Me: OK. I guess you know you and your kind have caused quite the uproar here.

Deer: Yeah, yeah. There's prejudice everywhere. Speciesism is ugly.

Me: So you don't see a problem with your presence on our streets.

Deer: We're not tourists, you know. We belong in Ashland as much as you do. We are, after all, vegan. And locavores, too.

Me: I'll say. But it's food we grow "…

Deer: It's true. When I walk down your street, it's like a delicatessen to me. Hmm, what should I eat? The Hendersons' tomato plants look good. And the Wiselys are growing chard this year; how nice of them. And for dessert, the Blakes' tulips. I love tulips.

Me: It's just that attitude that makes people angry. There's been talk of hunting —

Deer: Oh no, the horror, the horror. You people are cannibals.

Me: It's only cannibalism if it's the same species.

Deer: A mere quibble. Look into these big brown eyes. Would you shoot Bambi?

Me: Well no, I guess not "…

Deer: Look at that pert little tail. And how about these big mobile ears. They make us look endearingly gawky, don't you think?

Me: OK, I get it. Say, I didn't ask tour name. You do have names, don't you?

Deer: Of course. Mine's Grizek, over there's Brogma. You didn't think we gave each other names like fluffytail, did you?

Me: Well, I "…

Deer: You did, didn't you? You people are insufferable.

Me: I hear some people are feeding you and your friends. Ever partake of a free meal?

Deer: I don't eat fast food. My body is a temple.

Me: So tell me. Why are there so many deer in Ashland?

Deer: (whispering) There are monsters in those mountains. They have big teeth and sharp claws. It's horrible.

Me: Ah. You mean cougars.

Deer: Is that what you call them? I must assume that's why you live in town, too.

Me: I guess people live here for lots of different reasons.

Deer: Some of us, too. Tendrig over there likes the pretty blinking lights. The cars, though, are scary. But we're getting used to using the sidewalks and crosswalks. It's a learning process.

Me: Any problems with people?

Deer: Not too much, except when they have dogs. I hate dogs.

Me: But humans "…

Deer: They're harmless enough. But they are destructive. And I hear they carry diseases. So some of my fellow deer have been trying to come up with a way to reduce their number. Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta run.

And with that she trotted off toward the neighbor's yard in that stiff-legged gait they have, pert tail in the air, trampling my strawberries on the way.

David Leo Kennedy lives in Ashland.

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