We camped a few weeks ago. We were cooking over the fire and I had rocked my infant to sleep. She was wrapped in a jacket and I transferred her to the hammock so I could eat.
The smells out mountain air mingled with the deep notes of a campfire.
I cooked a hot dog, checked my baby, then cooked another. There is something about cooking over an open fire. A connection to the earth and a time much simpler that we don’t often experience.
My baby had started to move a bit so I went back over to the hammock. I swayed her gently but she was finished sleeping for the moment. I thought I’d heard branches break nearby. I turned to see a doe very close. Closer than I’d ever been to a deer. My infant was beginning to fuss so I bent and picked her up.
The hammock was between the doe and I but she continued to step closer. Her big dark eyes on me. The infant in my arms wasn’t visible to the doe because of the jacket I had wrapped around her and she started to make noise again.
The doe stopped.
Cocked her head and studied me.
It was obvious that humans were normal to her and that she stayed in and around this campground. However, this was apparently not a sound she had heard from a human. I peeled the jacket away from her face so that the doe could see her and the source of the noise.
The doe just stood looking at us. Her eyes locked with mine. Maybe she’d never seen a human infant before. This tiny version of the adults that frequent the campground. She continued to drink us in and for a moment there was a maternal connection. A primal bond that said, I know. You know. I too have a small one hiding nearby to care for.
It was a current vibrating between us that could only be shared between two mothers. A current that had no regard for species… A current that only recognized the shared burden and joy of raising a small version of yourself.
Of feeding it from your body.
Of protecting it with your body.
All of this passed between us in a couple of moments. Then the bond broke. A fleeting moment where nature and man connected on a primal level that acknowledged and respected the responsibility of what we were both doing.
A bit later we would witness her baby as well hiding in the grass. She got up without her mothers consent. Mom’s megaphone ears zeroed in on her baby and in an instant she was across the way. A thump with her leg the chastisement for leaving her hiding place.
And the bond was there again. A current that crosses species and relates. We are here to protect our young. Their protection requires obedience. And the lack of obedience demands chastisement… for their safety. For their survival.