Sunday, January 13, 2008

The News from My Corner of the World

Sometimes, life just isn't fair. And the most talented among us get overlooked. For example, my good friend Tony Hooper emailed me last week with this lament:

Dear Joanna,

Walter Bargen narrowly edged me out to become Missouri's first Poet Laureate. I probably should have steered away from controversy in my poems, one of which began:

I think that I shall never see
A state so fair as Missouri,
I love her highways, streets, and roads;
Some have potholes, some are closed.

Next time I'll send something from my nature series, like:

The doe stood boldly on my lawn,
Munching hostas with her fawn.
Two shots ripped the still of dawn

Now the bastards both are gone.

Were it not for your encouragement, I don't know how I'd carry on writing.


I share his pain.

Last Monday the "powers that be" closed down a five-mile stretch of the main East-West corridor in our city for two years. Eeeek!!! What a mess.

And the deer? No exaggeration, we have 100 deer per square mile in the suburb where Tony and I live. At any given time, a dozen of them are in my yard eating the lawn, flowers, shrubs, and trees. This photo is one I took of two babies sporting their winter coats. When I first saw them last Spring, they were--seriously--knee-high. I thought they were stray dogs!

Unfortunately, the deer have no natural predators. Each week there's a new carcass at the side of the road. One municipality decided to "airlift" the animals and take them to a new location. They died of terror.

Truly, I believe the herd should be culled. It's not fair to them. There's not enough to eat, they get hit and maimed by cars, and their interbreeding is causing birth defects like the buck we saw two years ago with the misformed leg. Yes, they also drive us homeowners nuts. Tony's wife trains guide dogs, and Suzanne has to keep dosing them for parasites because the pooches eat so much deer poo. Our lawn and flowers get torn up on a regular basis. My husband wants a tee-shirt that says, "Kill Bambi" on the front.

And yet...and yet...we all rush to the windows to watch the parade as the herd wanders through the yard. The sight of the little ones causes my heart to soar. As does the sight of their white flags bouncing into the woods behind the house.

So...Tony isn't poet laureate, and the deer still roam freely. Life doesn't lend itself to neat packages tied up with ribbons. Sigh. That's the news from my corner of the world.


Felicia Donovan said...

Nice post, Joanna. We would not choose to live in the midst of nature and close to the animal kingdom if we didn't secretly derive much pleasure from it all. I, too, am transfixed by the "signal of the white flag" and all the other creatures that invade my woods. I worry more about the day they don't come.

Felicia Donovan

ellen said...

My sister has wild turkeys, definitely a lesser hazard to the landscape. But you gotta watch these things - our fair city of Minneapolis is overrun by Canada Geese.

Nature can be your friend and neighbor. But sometimes, in the words of the Poet, "Good fences make good neighbors."

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Felicia, I do fear the day when the critters disappear. When we moved here, there were foxes. We've seen a coyote, and right before Christmas I opened the door to let the dogs out and narrowly avoided tripping over a fat opossum. (spelling?) But the deer are endangering drivers. A woman in Illinois was impaled by a buck's horn that went through her windshield and stabbed her in the chest.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...


I understand about the Canada Geese. Yesterday, I saw maybe two or three hundred of them in the water in a low-lying nearby field. Again, there's too many of them. I think if the flock was culled and the deer herd culled, the meat could go to feed the poor. This way, they are both hit by cars or die of starvation and there's no benefit to anyone.