Deer Heart

It’s no surprise that I spent part of my Sunday (August 26) at Myakka River State Park. We were under a Tropical Storm watch at the time and the River was already at near flood stage.  If we had gotten the worst of T.S. Isaac I wanted to have a good record.  Isaac decided, like so many storms before him, that getting to the Central West Coast of Florida is a lot of work.  It is a whole bunch easier to cruise through the Florida Straits, ruffle the feathers of the Margarita crowd in Key West, and then use the wide open Gulf of Mexico to feed its fury before making in landfall in Mississippi or Louisiana.

Sunday was a gloomy day and the traffic at Myakka was slim.  The water is high and lots of the wildlife is either displaced or much closer to the pathways than normal.  This momma alligator is a good example.  

She was a few yards off the Power Line Road, protecting her brood with a watchful eye.  There were enough obstacles between her and I that I never felt threatened but I also didn’t feel like pushing any limits to get a clearer shot.

Most of the other trails were washed out for the day. I tried to navigate the Fox High Road but it was hopeless.  Way too much water, not to mention the mosquitos.

So, I began to make my way home and had just crossed over the Park Drive Bridge when I looked to my left and there was this deer.

He was no more than three feet from the car and I was traveling at about 15mph so it seemed as though he was keeping pace with me.  We made clear eye contact and I stopped the car.  He stopped too.  And for a moment we regarded each other.  I finally reached for the camera and was sure this would be alarming.  But he took it all in stride.  Perhaps our moment of eye connection made him realize there was nothing to fear.

He nonchalantly turned to his left and sauntered into the woods.

The next day was a working one, shortened by Isaac’s erratic behavior.  Our offices opened at noon and that afternoon I had a grief support group for mothers whose adult children have died.   It was a smaller group than normal, no doubt owing to the storm as well as summer vacations.  There was a lull in the conversation and then one of the mothers said, “Well, I have something that I need to share.”

Her son had died of a heart attack three years ago.  About a year after the event she was driving home and entered her gated community. She found the road blocked by a deer.  She didn’t know what to do and was startled when the deer walked towards the car and stood by the driver’s window.  She lowered the window and began to talk to the deer.  At one point she touched the deer’s nose.  She was convinced that her son’s spirit had somehow entered the deer.  A similar incident happened to her a few weeks later.

Naturally, as I was culling through these photos tonight, I thought of this lady. I don’t know whose spirit was in the deer that I saw on Sunday.  More’s the pity for that. But I have no doubt that this lady’s story is true. I have heard too many similar tales — stories of butterflies and orbs and lady bugs and objects that move on their own or beloved items that appear without rhyme or reason.

Shakespeare wrote, “There is more in heaven and earth than we can know.”  And while it is true that we may not be able to know it does not mean we can’t be aware.  ❧

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