On Linens and Life: Spring on the West Coast

March 04, 2014

It's only the early days of March but the first signs of Spring are already here.  We have crocuses in the garden and the rhododendrons are already beginning to bloom.  When the flowers arrive, the deer are in residence and most mornings, we can look out our windows and expect to see at least one deer happily helping himself to the flowers in our front yard. If we become overtly territorial, they'll move off but only temporarily.  

When we arrived on the west coast two years ago, we were advised by long time residents that the only kinds of flowers that could be planted in the open spaces of our front yard were deer resistant varieties: rhododendrons, hydrangeas, lavender and peonies, among others.  On the stubborn side, we experimented with netting, olfactory deterrents, unpleasant terrain, all to predictable failure. Our garden remained one big deer appetizer until we finally moved the appealing plants to the back yard. 

Sometimes,  despite the fences, the deer find a way there too.  On more than one occasion, I've gone out to take the linen down from the line and two large brown eyes have looked back at me from between the sheets, a rather damning piece of greenery hanging from its now still mouth.  We watch each other.

The funny thing about deer is that despite how ungainly they walk, they are incredibly agile creatures. Chasing them out of the backyard, through treasured linen that I'd really rather protect, is an awkward process.  They are jumpy creatures and, understandably, don't like being cornered.  On the other hand, they often arrive in groups and so herding all of them towards the gate is something that I simply don't want filmed for an appearance on America's Funniest Home Videos. 

They don't  take me seriously at first, because I'm rather slow by comparison, but after many ins and outs through the sheets, they eventually take flight with one majestic bound over a six foot fence to enjoy whatever our neighbor has on offer.. I feel a little guilty for sending trouble my neighbor's way but if not, where do I stop?  I'd have to chase the deer to the next yard and the one after that and, the next thing you know, I've picked up a new career has a deer herder.

I don't want them there, wandering through my linen and decimating my flower-filled back gardens and yet I could scarcely admit to a begrudging admiration for how very gracefully they move or how serene a picture it is when the mother arrives with her fawn.  Complaining about deer overpopulation has become a local custom here so, like everyone else, I'll continue to watch them with perfect pleasure and then complain like crazy while I'm picking up the presents they leave behind.