Tripod, Blackberry, Blossom, and Life’s Promise

Tripod first showed herself to me this past winter. Winter, here, is cold and wet, dark and sometimes lonely. It is easy to grieve in this kind of winter. Tears fall easy with the rain, and the light from fireplaces warms broken hearts into a new years’ springtime.

I looked out this winter day from my desk to see a painful sight: a doe was jumping slowly, step-by-step to lurch her way forward on three legs. Her front left swung back and forth from just above her knee. It was an injury that would definitely cost her life. I stepped out onto my porch. We made eye contact. I told her, out loud, how much I cared for her, and how much I admired her. I told her she was as strong as the Spirit of Life Itself. I told her if it was her time, it was her time–and that she could go peacefully. I’d seen it happen, I told her. I told her we could all find peace. I was sure I’d never see her again.

That day, Tripod had two does with her. They moved along much slowly than they would, had they been alone. It was an act of compassion only animals can show through simple action and togetherness.

I let my heart be soothed by the fact that Tripod was not alone, and I did not think again of her. She was out of sight the rest of the winter and spring. I had plenty to worry about besides her fate–which is why it was so surprising that she, of all creatures, could galvanize my hope when I needed it the most months later.

Grief tends to sneak up on me. I don’t really like calendars. They remind me how quickly time flies, and I don’t particularly enjoy straight lines, nor do I enjoy boxes. Calendars seem somehow violent to me–like a forced way of controlling a life that can never really be nailed down. I think of dates more like experiences. My late husband’s birthday was burned in my heart, but the memory did not make it to my brain in thought form. It came in a feeling of restlessness and fear, uncertainty and underlying grief. I could not pinpoint the cause.

In the middle of this seeking, Tripod emerged from the woods. She came to my window, where I write and where I think. She lay down in the light of the morning, chewing her cud, her left leg straight out, unbending. She looked right at me, as if asking: Do you remember what you told me that winter day we first met…? I am here to remind you of Life’s Promise.

And so, the story begins…

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