Jerry Huckaby's

--Literary Lessons--



Monday: last night, the deer got into our backyard and ate the strawberries my wife had planted. She was very upset--bitter, really--as she had been fertilizing them, pulling out weeds and carefully watering for months now, and had just begun getting big, plump red strawberries when the deer came foraging. I felt sorry for her--who wouldn't?--especially since she would go out every morning with her cup of coffee and just gaze at her garden with a somewhat alarming (to me) possessive smile on her face. So that when she went out and found the plants had all been nipped off-- well!

I of course commiserated with her, and agreed how awful it was, but tried to get her to appreciate the "larger picture." I mean, deer have to eat, after all, and they had no idea, I was sure, that my wife was so attached to the strawberry plants...but that got me nowhere. As a matter of fact, it got me an angry glare. So I reminded her how often we had seen the graceful creatures off in the fields, how we had sometimes come upon them unexpectedly on our walks and watched motionlessly (so as not to startle them) as they so daintily browsed while feeding, and raised their lovely heads suddenly as if they sensed some intruder. And the fawns! How perfectly adorable the fawns were, I reminded her, and how they frolicked about like little leaping lambs, and how they were gently herded about by the does like kindergarten kids after recess. But she only muttered something under her breath and did not look at me.

I ignored her lack of response, and reminded her of the evening on the headlands when we had seen some deer tip-toeing down the hill to the lagoon, when we had the sudden thought that they were the original natives of the place--even before the Indians--and that perhaps they held the spirits of all the Indians who once lived here and are now gone, as deer are so ghostly and all.

She, my wife, merely pointed to a little pile of deer pellets in the garden, with a disgusted look on her face. So I said jocosely that maybe the deer had left those little black pellets as payment for the strawberries, for her to use as fertilizer in the garden! Her reaction was to grab the shovel, scoop up the pellets, and throw them at the two little apple trees I'd planted, while snarling (yes, I'm sorry to say) a cuss-word of her own making.

To be honest, the apple trees were something of a sore spot with her. They were my contribution to our garden, and I was foolish enough to tease her about how little work they were--just a bit of watering every so often, while she was on her hands and knees every day to weed and fuss with her strawberry plants. She would only reply, tight-lipped, that she loved strawberries and was decidedly indifferent to apples--if the trees ever did produce any. When they did--they're getting rounder and redder every day!--she merely sniffed a bit contemptuously. Which I thought was hardly fair. Anyway, when I commented helpfully that at least Bambi hadn't eaten any of the apples, I thought (from her expression) that my wife had become a bit crazed by the whole incident, so I returned diplomatically to the house to finish my morning coffee. Women, I mused, are just not equipped to be philosophical.

Tuesday: those damn deer ate every one of the apples off my trees last night! They didn't leave a single one, and the apples were just about ripe enough to pick! They're just big rats, you know, the stupid creatures, and prance around at night eating every thing they want like a bunch of thieves. They should all be shot! I had visions of sweet, tangy apple pies, and hot chunky applesauce--the nasty vermin! And my wife--she simply laughed at the horrible destruction and said stupid things like "the lovely creatures have to eat, too" and "maybe the Indian spirits had a yen for apples"--idiotic things like that! She pointed out a pile of deer pellets and said at least they left payment for the apples--and I was so mad I scooped up the pellets and flung them over the fence! She said, "Oh, why don't you try to be philosophic about it?" and I wanted to strangle her. Thank heavens she went laughing back into the house (laughing!) to drink her morning coffee. Honestly, women just don't get it, do they!

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