the meeting

graffiti of an outline of a deer with a heart inside, and the words: The stars were shining brightGood morning! How is the morning where you are today?

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My friends, today is the last day that I’m raising money for the Tomales Bay Workshops — I just have a little under $500 left to raise! The final payment is due today, and if you can contribute anything, I would be tremendously grateful. Every bit helps — I’ve watched these donations of $10 and $20 and $50 add up to meaning I can make it to study with Dorothy Allison in October. I’ll be sharing the writing that I do there with everyone who donates.

It’s such a strange thing to ask for help this way, and I’m humbled and so moved that as I’ve done so, I’ve been met with hands reaching back, offering help and encouragement. That’s a Very Big Deal. Thank you so much.

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The last 12 hours around here have been filled up with wildlife (and I’m not just talking about the frantic energy that’s rising up in me the closer I get to gre test day on 8/1): last night, just at dusk, there was a huge owl sitting at the top of the small tree just up the hill outside our kichen window. She looked like a cat sitting there, with her strong round body and pointy ears. The other small birds of the neighborhood weren’t happy to have her around and kept flying at and around her.

This morning, just after I’d liberated Sophie from the stick that’s too big for her to carry around but that she still wanted to prance with while hunting for a place to poop, a hummingbird zoomed in and over the spot where I’d tossed the stick. She hovered for a moment, like she thought there was new sweetness that had moved into the area, but then she flew on.

And then — and then and then. On our walk, as we were coming back down the road that takes us up to the houses with the unobstructed views of San Francisco, the Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge… we passed a couple of deer up on the hillside. They’d been there on our way up the road, but Sophie hadn’t noticed them. This time, she did, and so, naturally, she started to whine and bark. I encouraged us on, pulling a little at Sophie, who was intent on watching and tallking to the deer. One of the deer followed us. At first, I thought she was just trying to move out of the way, away from us. Then, as she kept being right there to our right, I thought maybe she was headed to her babies, was distracting us from them, wanted to keep them safe. But I didn’t see the fawns anywhere — were they hidden in this brush? No, the deer has passed through the brush and is still keeping pace with us. What’s happening? It’s 6:30 in the morning, my dog has a good strong bark that she’s sharing with all of our fancy neighbors, and the deer that the dog is going crazy over wants to check us out.

She came out into the road, the deer did, and started to follow us on the asphalt.

So, finally, I just stopped. I asked Sophie to sit, rewarded her when she would stop barking and respond to my requests for quiet, and made eye contact with the deer. She moved closer. Her eyes were big and black, and she had slight lashes brushing out just at the outer edges. Her body was full and round; she looked well fed — and she seemed curious about us.

I think I mentioned, a couple days ago, about the ticks that we’d found on Sophie. Have I mentioned my lifelong fear of ticks? First, when I was a child, they carried Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (I was told) and so every time I went anywhere near a forest or copse of trees, I wore a bandana, terrified that one would drop down on my head. Now it’s Lyme Disease we have to be afraid of, and so I put poison on my dog and I wear long pants when we go hiking, and I stay away from the deer that ticks seem to love so much.

Now here’s a deer wanting to come right up and say hello.

I was very tempted to let them get closer, although I was sure that Sophie wouldn’t behave. I was also nervous — what’s going on with this deer that it’s comfortable getting so close to a human and a dog? Is she angry? Is she sick? So I said, No. I stomped my feet a couple of times. She didn’t really back off, but stopped and waited, and we all watched each other for a little bit. Even with Sophie’s barking (although the pup did calm down some, could sit and look at this maybe-friend), the deer didn’t run away. The only thing that got her to move was a car that started to pull out of the driveway she was standing just in front of. The car drove between her and us, and after it passed, she didn’t come back close again.

I’m afraid that I missed an opportunity for some multi-layered cross-species friend-making, that I gave in to my fear of insects and unusual animal behavior. I’m grateful, though, for her bravery and curiosity. I’m carrying her eyes in my chest today, the glinty look, how she raised her small front hoof and set it back down, making a little sharp noise on the asphalt, standing still, watching us.

I hope we see her again.

Be easy with anything unusual that comes your way today, maybe. And don’t forget to write it down. Thanks for your words.

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