This year, even mom feels bad for the deer that come down to their backyard looking for food because the winter has been so harsh. I think she secretly is putting out bread scraps and not letting my dad know about it. It is illegal to feed deer in New York State. There is good reason for the laws, but when you actually see an animal or human suffering, you try to help. If that makes one an outlaw, i guess there is worse one can do?
I get sad thinking about the kids we could not help with Agrowbox that basically were walking out death sentences. The doctors would get a protective look on their faces, call it the repressing of emotions because there was nothing one could do once the body has passed the point of no return with starvation. I wonder how many people realize how many people on our planet are actually hungry today?
Hearing my mom lament about the deer, I was reminded of redoing my aunt’s house to make it more open and easier for her to access. She has had a fairly hard life, widowed at 28, and she has had to work to get her little place of peace, her home.
At that time one of her few pleasures in life besides a rare moment with no pain, was watching Syracuse basketball games and eating everything “cheese!” was sitting and watching the deer in her backyard. I really don’t know how my aunt does it, as her arthritic body, particularly her back and the disks have relegated her to a lifetime of pain. When I hurt myself working on her house, she gave me one pain pill and I woke up the next day, “aunt R, do these pills make you feel stupid?”
“You only got ½ of the normal dose.” Then she started laughing at my silly mood.
I think she lives with pain on 9 or 10…how? I really don’t know how she manages it.
Of course, she will never complain or talk about the pain – but one knows she is hurting. I do miss the time we spent together as she so enjoyed me cooking for her and our big splurge was getting pretty good Chinese take out for a treat.
What does this have to do with feeding deer? I figured, “lets get some deer food so aunt R can sit at her table and just smile watching them play in her backyard!”
I digress again:
Entering the local farm and feed store in the middle of the state not really knowing what to ask for, so when the sales associate asked, “can I help you?”
I replied, sure, “I am looking for deer food.”
You would have thought I was asking for heroin or crack. “Shhhhhhhhh!” said the salesperson.
He quickly grabbed my arm and led me over between the horse and the rabbit food aisles…”sir, are you aware it is illegal to feed deer in NYS!”
“Are you serious?” I asked. Lamenting the idea that I should have just asked for a bag of corn feed. But now I got paranoid seeing the paranoid look on the salesman’s face.
He started looking all around the store to see if a tactical swat team would jump out from the reptile or cow care sections. I looked up and listened to hear if black helicopters might be arriving from overhead.
When we felt the moment was safe, the salesman looked at me with a sort of disdain, yet a loving kindness -much like a farmer would look at a city boy being asked to milk a cow for the first time, call it the “disdain of understanding via ignorance.”
After checking out my eyes to see if I was a deer cop, the salesman thought, “this guy doesn’t have a clue on the intricacies of illegal animal feed.” He leaned forward and did the Lyndon B. Johnson power technique where you talk really softly, and have the other person lean in to hear the words.
“When you come in again, remember to just ask for DUCK food, ok?”
“But I want deer food!” I replied, clueless to the street lingo for deer food as if I was somehow purchasing drugs off the street.
He gave me a look of, “Are you stupid” and a wink of the eye, which was not the same as I get in San Francisco, New Orleans, and NYC where I have to say, “Thank you, but I am not gay.”
Growing slightly agitated he looked me in the eye and gruffed, “ Just remember to ask for DUCK FOOD, OK?”
It was then that the skies opened and I had an epiphany. While I didn’t think getting a bag of corn was so difficult, until a neuron fired, “Ahhhh…yes...duck food! “
The man finally relaxed, my ignorance proved I was not an undercover deer food cop.
So I tried it all out, “May I please purchase a bag of duck food? How large are the bags of duck food?”
The salesman then returned to his normal self, “We have bags of 25 and 50 lbs. What would you like?”
I had no idea, but I figured bigger is better, “oh lets start with one 50 lb bag and see how long that lasts?”
“Go pay the cashier and back up your vehicle to the loading dock.”
All the way to my aunts, i was worried i would get pulled over and some police officer would see the 50lbs of corn meal and ask, "what is that for?"
"duck food!" would be my answer.
The smile on my aunts face as I put the Duck food into her back yard in the middle of a freezing winter. I know she only wanted the fine feather friends to enjoy some food to get through the cold. With the lakes and ponds frozen over, the little ducks could not get algae and fish….
I can’t help it that deer showed up. Those rascals!