Twenty-nine years ago this summer I was decorating my first apartment. Hamilton and I were engaged and we added an apartment above his shop for our first home. We lived there for nine years, it was rent-free which allowed me to finish school and stay home with my babies. We only needed one car because Hamilton just walked downstairs to work. After we moved to town the apartment was continuously occupied by family members, friends and employees, giving them a rent-free space to live. Now we are back on the farm and want to use the apartment as office and guest space but the interior is pretty tired so I’m in the process of renovating.
As I am back in the space for the first time in 20 years memories of that time of my life have come flooding back, almost like watching a movie. As I started to take down the 80’s wallpaper I thought of Aunt Julie. Hamilton’s cousin Tony built the apartment and his Aunt Julie offered to teach me to wallpaper the bathroom. I was so excited to make my little place as cute as possible.
Over the years I would periodically call Aunt Julie. There were many times I needed her gentle support. As in most families, I have a couple of close relatives who can be very difficult. Aunt Julie was the one person who really understood. We never talked badly about anyone but I knew she knew what I was going through. I just needed to be reassured that although there was nothing that could be done someone saw me.
Around this same time I was student teaching. I had a very difficult supervising teacher who was not allowed another student teacher after me. Those were hard days, I came home to my only friend, General Hospital on the VCR. Every day I would take a few students to a reading specialist named Karen. She was always kind and went out of her way to speak to me. We never spoke of my difficult teacher but once again I knew that she knew. Yet again someone saw me. That was all I needed to soldier on.
I’m so glad to have these memories of kind women who helped a young twentysomething negotiate tough interpersonal relationships, not by advice but by just simply being there. I hope that I have passed on this kindness to someone else. Please thank a friend or relative that has done that for you. Aunt Julie has passed on but this week I’m remembering to say a prayer for her and her sweet kindness.
1980’s wallpaper on the way to the trash
Hamilton was on his second attempt to bush-hog the field across the street. The first time he was interrupted by a mighty thunderstorm. He hadn’t gone but a few times round the field when he saw an animal out of the corner of his eye. He first thought it was a rabbit but then on closer inspection saw that it was a new fawn. The mother had hidden the little guy in some tall grass and it was too young to walk around on his own.
He called me and I came to see what could be done. I called the local vet school and talked to a wild life specialist. She said it was too young for them to take so we agreed that I move him out of the 90 degree heat to the shade and hope the mother returns. I carefully wrapped him in a towel so I wouldn’t touch him and moved him about 20 feet to the shade. Only the size of a long legged Chihuahua, he was delicate and beautiful. I couldn’t believe I was picking up such a tiny baby. We left the area in hopes mom would come back soon. I did some internet research and was reassured that we did the best thing for his survival.
It is rare to see such a tiny one since the mom usually has them well hidden. Hamilton went back a few hours later and was distressed to see him still there but on my way to check on him we were lucky enough to see the mom bounding around nearby. We left the area with hopes that mom would find him and he would live to be a magnificent buck.
I sent Alexandra a picture of the little guy and this is her return text. “TOO MUCH TOO MUCH IT HURTS OMG OMG PLEASE BABY DEER DON’T DIE”. When I told her the plan she sent this text “Okay good. Keep in mind; I am willing and able to raise him as my own.” A kind offer but unfortunately illegal so we left him to his mother’s care and took the tractor out of the field so we could give him time to grow.
A week later Hamilton went to finish the field and saw the little guy up and around and able to run out of his hiding place and saw the mom in the creek bottom, a happy ending to the story.
In the language of animal totems, deer means gentleness and a new innocence being born in you. I like to be reminded of gentleness, we all need to be gentle with ourselves and each other. There is far too much harshness in this world. The doe keeps her baby hidden and nurtured until he is strong enough to be in the world. We too need to keep our deepest experiences, new insights and joys hidden and nurtured, away from the harshness of criticism and ignorance until they are strong. Alexandra doesn’t want to talk about her Camino experience with her friends, she wants to keep it her private joy, safe and nurtured. So try a little gentle love on your spiritual journey so your heart can have the space to be safe and grow into something magnificent.
Essential books for your spiritual library:
Animal –Speak and Animal-Wise by Ted Andrews
Animal Wisdom by Susie Green