Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Stag

I am not a morning person. I'd much rather rely on my internal clock and awaken peacefully and naturally than to have an alarm blast in my ear. I've tried awakening to music but unfortunately it tends to add a nice atmosphere to my dreams and is not a very effective way to get me out of bed. 

One particular morning in 2004, I stumbled into the kitchen and made my traditional morning coffee, stood there in a stupor until enough had brewed for me to pour a hot cup and proceeded to stumble into my office to boot up my computer.

As I staggered back in toward the kitchen (I told you I'm not a morning person) I glanced out into the backyard. The rays of the rising sun were beginning to filter through the trees and burn off the early morning mist. 

I continued on through the dining room when I did a "double take". I looked back out into the backyard and saw a deer out in the middle of the yard "grazing". I seriously wiped my eyes to make certain I was seeing correctly.

This may not seem odd or unusual to some, but at the time I lived in a busy 1950's subdivision with fenced 1/2 acre lots. There were 17 trees in the backyard teaming with wildlife but, I'd never seen a deer in the neighborhood in the five years I'd lived there. I knew that the area had been overdeveloped and that urban sprawl created a serious issue with local wildlife. Deer populations had surged, likely because its natural predator the coyote had been killed off or pushed further out during development. 

I stared at the deer in a stupor from my dining room picture window and suddenly it looked straight up at me. As I sipped my coffee, we stared at each other and I can't say for how long. I kept thinking "thank you for joining me this morning for coffee". I was so grateful. 


Finally, our gaze broke and the deer continued investigating my yard until suddenly it sprang into action, leaped the fence into my side yard and out into the street. I ran (ok, shuffled) out the front door to the porch and two other neighbors had emerged from their houses to watch it make its way right down the middle of the street, eventually leaping into another backyard.

I had much to reflect on that morning. It seemed like a gift yet awakened me to the blight of these creatures due to our poorly planned, excessive development. I sat down at the computer and did some research.

In Celtic tradition, the Stag can represent strength, virility and the freedom of the woods. It is a powerful ally to have when journeying into the depths of the Other World or in facing a problem which requires particular strength and stamina. It can also represent the cycle of death and rebirth, as it sheds its' antlers in the Springtime.

Within a week, I'd contacted the National Wildlife Federation and created a Backyard Certified Habitat. I also contacted Cornell University and participated for the following three years in their annual bird migration count program.

When I had to sell my house in the "burbs" the next year, I found the certification to be an asset. It stays with the property and not only was the buyer impressed but was all too glad to maintain the status and carry it on including 19 species of birds, squirrels, groundhogs, raccoons, rabbits, garden snakes, butterflies and yes, deer. 

While progress is slow to be made for the environment with hierarchal government agencies, at the grassroots level, it's alive and kicking. Monarch butterfly migration backyard habitats, local wildlife habitats and preservation of indigenous plant life are being created and protected by homeowners and tenants like you and me.

Needless to say, I felt very honored that a Stag joined me for "coffee" that morning and its presence changed my perspective and life.

Click below to find out how easy it is to create your own backyard habitat - then scroll down to this link to get started - NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitat® program


                 Click this bottom left box of screen to view