Wednesday, August 28, 2013


From the start, the day was fretful.  In the soft glow of dawn, it promised all the glory of a late summer day, but thunderstorms gathered in the northwest, rolling down the St. John Valley toward us.  I left the house in a hurry, anxious to get to school before the distant rumbles and black clouds caught me.  At the end of the road, I look left and right, then left again into the gleam of rising sun, and pulled out onto High Meadow Road, heading south to Presque Isle.

At the top of the small knoll, not a hundred yards from our dirt road, a very small deer was in the middle of the road, wandering around in circles. I braked, slowed down, hoping there was no one coming up the hill behind me, and then slowed to a stop. 

The fawn circled anxiously around, stretching its neck out, searching, searching. Even through the closed windows I could hear it crying a desperate blat.  My heart sank.

“Where is your mother?” I asked aloud, not expecting an answer.  The tiny creature, smaller than my Hannah, delicate and fragile enough to be easily blown over by a strong wind, continued its troubled pacing and circling. 

A car breached the top of the hill heading down towards us and I flashed my lights frantically.

“I should just go get it,” I thought as I watched the tiny creature intently as it wandered off the road down into a copse of old firs.  I rolled down the window. The sad, desperate cries were louder, tugging at me.   The oncoming car slowed, pulled up next to me.  Our town administrator was driving and as she stopped beside me, she rolled down the window.

"It’s a fawn,” I said, almost breathless with my fear for the tiny creature. “I don’t know where its mother is.”

She too had seen it and was near as worried as I. We pondered what to do.

I called my husband and ordered him to call Fish and Game and have a warden come get the tiny deer.  He was befuddled, confused, but said he would. I eased the car off the road and got out.  The tiny animal had disappeared into the tall overgrown timothy, but I could follow it by its cries.  In my heart I knew this was the tiny spotted fawn I had photographed with its mama less than a week ago.

I called Bruce back. “I can’t get anyone,” he said.

I called Kasey, a dozen miles away, enlisting her help. The town administrator drove off to town hall, a scant two miles away, intent on calling.  I called Bruce back again.

“They’re dispatching someone,” he said.  The fawn still cried.  I had been there a half hour.  “You need to go to school,” my husband told me.   I wanted to wait for help to come. I wanted to wade into the damp field and scoop up the helpless baby, hold it in my arms, keep it safe.  I fought back tears. Thunder rumbled in the distance, the dark clouds edged across the sun.

I called town hall, and the town administrator said she too had a promise that someone was coming to collect the baby.  Rain drops splattered on the windshield, dappled the pavement. The deer blatted, over and over.   Another fifteen minutes passed.  I needed to get to school.

Reluctantly, I got in the car, started it and eased toward Presque Isle.  On the drive I resolved to stop at the fire ranger’s house along the way and urge him to help rescue the fawn. There was no one home. In Washburn, I asked the clerk at the small store where I buy morning coffee if there was a warden in town, and told her the story. She sent me across the street to the police department, the name of one officer in my head.  If anyone could help, she told me, it would be him.

He was not there. He was out on a skunk call, but after I told my story, the dispatcher tried to reach him. A few minutes later, he rolled into the parking lot where I met him and told my tale.  I followed him into the office that soon smelled faintly skunky, and he began calling wardens.  He finally located and spoke with the one dispatched. He was on his way to try to rescue the fawn.   I fought the urge to jump in my car and drive back to show him where it was.

Instead, I thanked the officer, apologized for being a weepy, crazy lady. He just smiled, and then I crossed the street to my car and headed on south to school. 

For an hour I wrestled with software problems, photocopied handouts, and then headed to class. The fawn kept batting against my concentration.

At 11 o’clock, I rushed to my office and called town hall. The administrator had heard nothing and was both concerned and irritated. She had left her number, asked to be called and had heard from no one.  More than two hours had passed since we first had called Fish and Game, more than enough time to find and rescue the spotted fawn.   Again, tears welled up in my eyes.

I picked up the phone again and called the dispatcher. I would go all the way to the state capital if necessary to get the fawn rescued.  I gave the dispatcher my name and began to explain my call.

“They got her,” he interrupted.  I wasn’t sure I heard right.

“They got her?” I asked. “What did they do with her?”

“She still needs milk so they took her to the wildlife biologist.”

“They took her to the wildlife biologist?” I asked, jubilant.

“Yup,” he said.

"Thank you, thank you,” I whooped. Then I hung up quickly before he could hear me cry. Again.

I do not know what happened to her mother.  Maybe she was hit by a speeding car and struggled off the road and died.  Maybe the coyotes ran her down as she led them away from her tiny baby. 

I do know that the fawn, barely two months old the police officer estimated, will get the milk she needs, be warm as the nights cool, safe from predators and cars, and now has the chance to grow up and leap across the wild north fields.

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