My two deer came back this morning. What with the neighbor yelling at them and a strange man sneaking climbing into people’s hot tubs in the area, I was afraid they’d never be back.

The woods above our back yard are thick with rhododendron, fallen limbs, underbrush, debris, ivy, and holly. Years ago I blazed a trail through the mess so the kids could play up there. Soon deer and coyote started using the trail to get to the park. It’s a woodland circus if you happen to look out the window at the right time.  

My husband piles leaves in a bare spot up there – the woods slope up just beyond the grassy area – and that’s where we see most of the wildlife passing through. A couple of months ago two deer started hanging out in that bare area. They stand there, scratching their fleas with their teeth or skinny hind legs and intertwining their necks to scratch each other’s fleas.  

Deer in the backyard scratching an itch with it's teeth.
Deer in the backyard, one scratching an itch with it’s teeth, the other chewing its cud.

Just before Christmas they showed up four days in a row. On the fifth day my daughter arrived home from college. “Oh boy,” I said, excited. “You’ll get to see the two deer!” But of course we looked all day but no deer showed up. “Just wait, they’ll be here tomorrow. I’m telling you, they were up there for three hours the other day napping in the leaves.”

On my daughter’s 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th days the deer didn’t come. The morning of her 8th day, she packed up and drove away. I always get teary-eyed when she leaves, so I started putzing around the house, keeping busy to stave off the sadness. Barely 30 minutes later (I checked my phone) the two deer strolled into the clearing. I laughed, delighted to see them and amazed at their impeccable timing. I sent my daughter a text with a picture of them. “Of course,” she replied back. “They came to keep you company after I left.”

The reason I’m so happy to see my deer this morning is because our next-door neighbor yelled at them about a week ago. Or maybe he yelled at the Hot Tub Guy when the deer just happened to be there, too. He emailed and said he’d seen a man in the woods behind our house. I called him right away.

“Yeah, I’d just gotten out of my car and heard a man crashing around – he made a lot of noise – so I yelled a couple of times, ‘Hey you, identify yourself.’” He has a deep, boisterous voice people can hear from miles away when he calls his dog.

“That’s strange,” I said, “because about that time I saw a deer up there struggling to run through the underbrush – not on the easy path – like it was scared. Are you sure it was a man?”

“Well, he was tall and when I yelled he crouched down. A deer wouldn’t crouch down. I sure thought it was a man.” (I told this to my husband later and he said deer will crouch down to get out of the line of fire.)

“Did you actually see a man? Like with a shirt on?”

He hemmed and hawed. I hadn’t heard about the Hot Tub Guy yet, so I said, “Sounds like one of those stories you read about when a hunter shoots someone because he could have sworn it was a deer.”

“I don’t know about that,” he said. “I sure thought it was a man.”

“Well, thanks for letting me know,” I said. “I’ll keep an eye out.”

Deer in the backyard looking at the neighbor's house
Deer in the backyard looking toward the neighbor’s house

I was convinced it was the deer until a few days later when I heard about someone in our area finding a strange man in her hot tub. It was on our neighborhood’s Next Door website. Another neighbor called and said she was sure she heard the lid slam down on her hot tub right outside her bedroom window.

“Maybe it’s the Hot Tub Guy,” I said. She’d read about him too.

“If it was, he didn’t have any luck. That hot tub’s been empty for years. Nothing in there but a bunch of slimy slugs. That’s probably why he slammed it shut.”

Now I wonder – was there was a man in my woods, scouting around for a new hot tub? Naked and cold and just wanting to get warm?

Today started with me feeling a little groggy. Last night I stopped at a friend’s and she gave me some apple cinnamon vodka. It wasn’t very good but I drank it anyway, just to be polite. “Have you got some Fireball or chocolate vodka so I can wash this taste out of my mouth?” She filled my glass. Those two drinks were enough to make me feel vacant-headed this morning, and I’ve got a ton of things to do today that I’d prefer not to, like cleaning toilets, so I’m happy the deer showed up to entertain and distract me, if only for a little while.

I’m also happy we have somebody who wants us to quit bickering with each other and try to live in peace. Who knows whether that’s possible, but it sure sounds good to me. I’m ready for a new vision of America – of stepping into the future united and strong and accepting and forgiving. Can we pull it off? Doesn’t hurt to try. It’s sure better than all this fighting amongst ourselves.

My deer came back today. Things are looking up.  

My two deer
My two deer