It was in 1995 that I had a memory making nature experience. At the time, I was wracked with rheumatoid arthritis pain especially in my hands and feet. My husband suggested we go to the deer research pens in State College, Pa. The Penn State Deer Research Facility was studying among other things, nutrition, reproduction and behavior. Not only did we want to see the deer, it was a good distraction from my condition.
Off we went to Big Hollow Road. It was nice there, walking along the path outside of the fenced deer pens. There must have been thirty-five or maybe more deer, does and bucks, in the woodlot pens. A few deer were browsing, but most were bedded down chewing their cuds. It was peaceful walking along the fence looking in at the deer. It was quiet too, walking on the old woodchip path. The woodchip path ended and a cinder path continued around.
My husband had walked on quite a distance ahead. I was walking down a slight grade on the cinder path when I slipped and ended up prone with my face pushed into the cinders. It seemed like everything was hurting. Needless to say, I was whaling, sobbing, struggling to right myself but unable to get up because of the pains in my hands and feet. For some reason, my eyes caught movement. Quietly and slowly all of the does got up in unison. The bucks stayed down. The does with their necks outstretched, heads down, and eyes looking at me walked towards me, right up to the fence. There they were, all lined up along the fence. Noses down and pushed forward there was empathy. They wanted to help me. Oh my, what a moment. I continued struggling and finally got myself standing using my elbows and knees. Still sobbing, I started to walk. The does walked too, with me, along the inside of the fence. They continued to walk with me. As I got myself together more, they began to stop following me. Some continued, one in particular stayed with me for some distance. Eventually she stopped. I turned to look at her. Our eyes met. Overwhelming emotion caught me – caring, unity, a sense of oneness, a sense that we are in this together, cherish.
Years have gone by but those does, that deer, wasn’t just a something, some animal, out there in the woods. It was an animal that wanted to help a human being, an animal that came caring, an animal that transcended the human. An animal, without knowing, showing me the oneness of us all.