Edge Dwellers

By Patricia B. Mitchell


A watchful doe pauses at our back fence.

In the evening and early in the morning, I often see deer as I look out my kitchen window while washing dishes. The does move alertly, quietly. Their fawns scamper around, less concerned about possible dangers. Their presence, beauty, and grace are soothing to behold.

When we first moved to this old house, we were reasonably successful vegetable gardeners. We concentrated on “salad fixin's,” such as tomatoes, lettuce, onions, cucumbers, radishes, summer squash, green peppers, and broccoli. We also tried cantaloupes, watermelons, and some fruit trees. Soon, however, the deer discovered this food source.

Doe and fawn

After the doe leaps the fence, her fawn comes running to nurse.

When my husband and I were growing up here in Pittsylvania County we hardly ever saw a deer. Henry recalls an incident in the late 1960's when he was returning to his home after our Saturday night date. He actually pulled off the road to observe a herd of deer grazing in a moonlit field near the Banister River. To see a single deer would have been rare; a whole herd was astonishing.

Subsequent efforts to encourage growth of the deer population in this locale have succeeded. Even though our particular area is still undeveloped, and thus blessed with fields and forests, the large numbers of deer do not hesitate to range into gardens and yards, even in town. Within about five years of our moving into this house, growing food became almost impossible. The “edge dwellers” eat much faster than we can grow things, so we gave up our crops.

Now the lithe deer are our animated lawn ornaments.

Deer on the front hill

A doe and fawn wander the wooded hill in front of our house.