Looking out my living room through double windows, I often see herds of deer on a trail that only they know as they move up or down the mountain. Sometimes I see two or three or maybe as many as ten as they quietly make the trek past my house. Today I happened to be looking out when I saw slight movement. As I watched, a doe made her deliberate way through the trees, barely noticeable because her brown coat blended so well with nature. I waited to see if others would follow and, sure enough, a young one, probably born in May or June, followed her.
Just as I had decided there were no more deer, another young one appeared. He reminded me of a curious little boy, stopping to investigate anything that caught his eye. He nibbled from the ground, probably finding acorns. It could have been he heard an unfamiliar sound or he had just realized his family had gone on without him. His little head flew up, and he bolted up the ridge, his short tail held aloft like a white flag.
This image brought to mind one of the first movies I saw as a child, The Yearling, based on the wonderful book by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. I fell in love with that orphaned deer, Flag, and it broke my heart that he would not be tamed and behave himself so he could be kept safe. Like the young one I saw today, Flag was curious and mischievous. He would not stay out of the corn field, and no matter how hard the boy tried, he could not save the wild animal he loved so much.
That is the way with some young humans, isn't it? Their curiosity, their daring and adventurous spirit will not be harnessed. They defy caution. They climb mountains, they jump motorcycles, they drive fast cars, they test the waters in every way they can.
Sometimes they end their lives before they have lived. Sometimes, we who love them, hold our breath and say to ourselves, "If we can just keep him alive until he's grown."