For a while as winter waned, I thought the deer family of Edwards Lane, East Hampton, where I live, had gone on vacation. It had been quite a while since I called a grandchild’s attention to one on the front lawn or followed another till it ran behind the barn, only to show up impertinently in front of the barn a few minutes later.
Then, suddenly, about two weeks ago, they were back.
I drive cautiously, especially at dusk, and can say that I’ve been surprised by only two or three deer on the evening roads in the last year. But it never occurred to me before that I would have to be watchful in my own driveway. One night I came upon a big one there; it ambled off pretty quickly behind the evergreens. Now, however, they’ve become omnipresent.
I walked home from the office one afternoon this week to find three loitering on the front lawn. One was lying down; the other two just stood there with their big brown ears pointing up and their eyes staring at me as I walked toward the house about 20 feet away. They didn’t bother to move.
It seems that the deer like the front yard better than the back, although it must have been deer who chomped the leaves off two camellia bushes out back that are now bare to about shoulder level (while higher up they are in full leaf and bloom). I’ve never caught deer at the camellias, although I’ve watched them nose around the garden and empty the bird feeders. It could be that they are keeping in check the yellow wildflower that invades the lawn at this time of year, which would be something of a plus.
Two nights ago, as I drove out in my car, I said goodnight to five deer in front of the house. I was quickly startled by two more, which jumped from Edwards Lane over the split-rail fence at the edge of the library’s property.
It seems that our friendly neighborhood herbivores are getting out of hand. What were seven does doing on a small lane in the heart of the village? And what had driven them to take a hiatus?
My husband, who has taken to sardonically calling any deer he sees Bambi, blames the village invasion on the folks who have settled in Northwest Woods and put up six-foot-tall fences like fortifications around their properties. I’m not so sure about that theory . . . and he’s got another thing coming if he imagines the town will do something about it. (Outlaw deer fences?) Besides, I haven’t told him yet about a new deer fence much closer to home.
When a member of the East Hampton Garden Club asked if I would mind their putting up a new fence along the border between the Star property and Clinton Academy, whose native plant garden the club tends, I said, “Of course not.”
It’s pleasant to be able to look at the garden from our windows or to go out there for a breath of air. The club had gotten tired of seeing a large patch of smooth grass flattened where deer obviously had a habit of bedding down. Now, a tall but unobtrusive black wire fence stands guard.
Yes, I know: If I don’t want deer in my yard, if I want to plant some annuals for our pleasure rather than theirs, I can put up a fence, too. But what will East Hampton Village look like if every house lot — all right, every other house lot — is ringed by a tall fence? And where will the deer go?