I love deer. I live in a wooded area, and you can see them in the early morning, brown-eyed and calm, meandering through the neighborhood, slipping in and out of the woods like benevolent spirits. Once, getting my son off to high school, we stood open-mouthed at their grace as they checked the copse in our front yard. My next door neighbor has taken a picture of a rare white deer in his back yard. At twilight, a herd will wander down the street, the very model of the absence of anxiety I fight so hard to achieve.
I hate deer. Year after year, they devoured almost every growing thing in my yard. I'd had enough. Out came a dozen hardy hosta that never had the opportunity to bloom, roses that turned into Morticia Adams bouquets of thorns, and a row of day lilies lining my driveway whose buds were perpetually nibbled off like a proffered row of miniature Reece’s peanut butter cups. My pride and joy, lush bearded iris so dense you couldn’t take a step between them, had been decimated. I replaced it all with supposedly deer-resistant plants. Supposedly is the key word here, because, given enough snow and hunger, deer will eat anything.
Our wide and long front slope faces the Western sun that bakes it all summer. Its 45 degree angle is too steep to mow. Our second year living here I pulled every weed on that slope and planted a DOZEN flats of English ivy (that’s 144 plants, folks) (also a flat of now defunct periwinkle). Every morning, amidst the gnats and mosquitoes, I was out there weeding. The ivy grew shiny and lush. A couple of years ago during a hard winter (and haven’t they all become hard?) our visiting ruminants ate the central third turning my beautiful slope into an eroded, tangled, brown mat.
This year I’m trying a deer repellant. I’ve sprayed it on the ivy and my two new rose bushes. I have to do something because when I see what they’ve done, I go berserk. I curse and jump up and down and just want to them!
But when I see the deer muscular, majestic, and all unawares, they take my breath awy. They’re just magnificent.