the small god

This morning, a young deer, a yearling buck, came to eat the grape branches torn off by raccoons the other night. John called to say he was out in the back and I went out to talk to him. It didn’t really matter about the grapes — I’d picked what I needed for the most beautiful jelly flavoured with rosemary and a few hot chilies — but I don’t want the deer coming so close to the house. They inhale roses, for one thing. And I think it’s better for them to keep their boundaries. That’s what I told him. Yet I felt I was in the presence of a god when I stood quite close to him and watched him watching me. (Though every time I tried to photograph his face, he looked away.)

P1100571The Greek hermit saint, St. Giles, is always portrayed with a hind at his side.


In some versions of his story, he lived in a forest in the south of France and fed upon the milk of the hind who slept at his feet. John said, as I was talking to our young visitor, “It wouldn’t take much to tame him.” But I’d rather leave him wild, though it was hard to resist stroking that face.