Saturday, March 9, 2013

Border Crossing

doe in the yard
This week a one-antlered buck stood on my leaf pile, surveying the yard. Three does were with him, munching on my lawn. The eldest curled herself up by the fence. The younger ones ranged around her, one by the bird bath, chewing endlessly on a tuft of grass; the other worked her way from the bare-limbed pear tree to the ivy at the edge between my yard and my neighbors', where she, like her mother or sister, nested in the shade.

I went away, changed clothes, did something or other. And after a while I came back and they were all gone. At least I know now, I thought, why my garden fence is in such disrepair. I know what happened to that parsnip I planted in the fall. I know what the coyotes are yowling at outside my study window after the moon has risen.

It's nice to know.

This year, I'm told, was the warmest in 4000 years. It hasn't been this warm since before Moses walked up Sinai into the cloud that had led his people through the wilderness. Those were days when a pillar of fire led the people by night. But it wasn't as hot as it is now. In the decades to come, say the scientists, it'll peak record temperatures since the last ice age. Which is to say, I'm guessing, since as long as we can tell. I have the feeling, the suspicion, that the last ice age is the limit of our meteorological knowledge. What they're telling us, maybe, is that earth has never been hotter than it's going to get, at least since human life has been here.

Meanwhile, a family of deer have camped in my yard. I don't have much hope for my garden, though I'll try. I'll do my best. And I'll keep my kids indoors at night in case of coyotes.

But it seems odd that the turning of the climate should coincide with the renewal of wildlife in my neighborhood. It seems like this apocalyptic turning should be dire, and I have no doubt it eventually could (and maybe will) be. But just now, it seems only like the first harbingers have crossed back from the wild into unfamiliar places. And it's hard not to welcome them, in spite of my garden.

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