Early last fall, all the deer that had been roaming around town alone or in pairs throughout the summer drew together into one large herd.
It was fall, and for a few short weeks the bucks appeared from the desert, and made nice with the girls before disappearing back into the desert again when they were done.
By that time I knew that one doe had a badly injured shoulder.
She traveled through town slowly with her baby from last spring, and I watched her week after week hoping that she would heal up, until finally coming to the realization that whatever had happened to her had caused a chronic injury that would never heal.
And so she limped along as best she could with the herd.
When they jumped fences she and her baby stayed as close as they could until everyone in the herd could rejoin each other again.
When the herd grazed in the open, she grazed on the outskirts of the herd.
When they traveled through town she slowly and painfully limped along, struggling to keep up.
She was old. And chronically injured. And certainly pregnant. And winter was just around the corner...............
All winter I watched for her.
I would see her often around town and every time I saw her limping along I would secretly and quietly and internally feel relieved and gratified to see her.
She was alive.
She was toughing out the winter.
Keep fighting to make it Sarah.
One of the town residents had named her.....................
Occasionally I would wander around town with my dog and not see her, and for brief periods of time I would wonder if Sarah was alright.
Had the injury finally gotten to her?
The coyotes (who travel through town late into the night)?
Had any one of those obstacles finally taken her from the herd?
I would wonder.
And then irrevocably I would be walking through town and there she would be.
And secretly and quietly and internally, I would feel relieved to see her again.
Good to see you Sarah......................
Early in the winter the number of deer in the town herd varied occasionally.
Sometimes there were more and sometimes there was less, but as winter progressed and the herd stabilized, there were consistently 12....................
A couple of weeks ago I began to notice that the herd (that had stayed in and around town together throughout the winter) had broken into two distinct herds.
10 still traveled together.
The injured doe and her almost grown baby were now staying in the yard of a town resident.
And the doe (who was now obviously pregnant) was always sitting.
Day after day I wandered with Kory, and day after day she sat in the front yard with her baby staying close by........................
I took these pictures earlier this month.
The picture at the very top of this blog post is of Sarah..................
A couple of hours ago I was walking through town with Kory.
We had wandered up and down many streets in town, and I gave Kory all the time she needed and wanted to sniff and explore whatever caught her attention along the way.
At the far end of town we turned onto one more road.
Startled out of deep introspection I looked up to see the deer all watching us as we approached.
One by one they turned and slowly began to trot across an open field and away from us.
Without consciously giving it any thought, I silently counted them as they straight lined across the field.
...............9, 10, 11.
Mildly surprised, we continued walking along the center of the road that was now more mud covered than snow covered, heading towards the back of town.
That is when I saw her.
She was laying on the side of the road and she was dead.
Sarah had almost made it through the winter........................