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All about words



Don't Just Do Something, Stand There

Posted by nancyfreund11 on June 25, 2015 at 7:45 AM

Doe, a deer, a female deer is running circles around my house on the hill in Switzerland. I was in the garage sorting ski gear for summer when this sweet little thing pranced up like it knew where it was going, encountered the closed the security gate, head butted it a couple of times and then started running circles. My big dog and I are now inside, hoping he won’t have to pee, and I won’t get so twitchy I have to go outside for my own stupid reasons. I really want to go outside and investigate.

After a phone call to a friend of a friend, I’ve now taken advice from the Communal Magistrate of Hunting. Stay inside. Open your gates. She probably has a puppy in the field opposite and she will eventually calm herself and go to it. “Puppy” was later confirmed as baby deer... the kind of error that happens once a week when a Swiss person speaks English (or any number of other languages), and once a sentence when I speak French. Bottom line though, Bambi’s mother is in my garden. She is alive! If I play my cards right, she will live!

My Dutch friend Ingrid and I took French lessons together when we both first lived here, and she woke up to find that a deer had perished in her garden. Deer. Chevreuil. She called animal control and said in her own version of perfect French, il y a un veuve morte dans mon jardin. The police arrived at her house in approximately two-and-one-half seconds. Even if you only speak the French of Champagne, you might recognize the veuve from Veuve Cliquot. A widow. The police were evidently relieved to discover that day’s dead deer at Ingrid’s.

But my deer is alive! If she’s still here at 5pm, I start the phone call chain to get the Hunting Magistrate to come. We’ve got four hours. The deer may already be gone now. Maybe not. After watching it fall off a 6-foot wall (directly in front of an open gate) and then jump right back up, I’m thinking it may also have a heart attack and remain here well past 5pm. "Bambi" all over again. The first movie that made me sob. Me and everyone, probably. There’s a lot riding on this goal of mine, to save Bambi’s mother.

But the advice is hard to take. “Don’t just do something, stand there.” The first time I heard this guidance, it stopped me in my tracks -- but only for a nanosecond, because let’s face it, I was in the middle of something, and I’m busy! Not a stand-there type. Not that I’m impatient. I’ve been called even-keeled, careful and methodical, a voice of reason in craziest chaos. But if something needs doing, and it needs doing by me, I need to be making progress toward doing it. Waiting is the most counter-intuitive, uncomfortable thing to do, toward making progress.

I grew up regaled by stories of wise Mr. Penny of the JCPenny Company interviewing candidates for a job, and he would leave a pencil on the floor of his office between the door and his desk. Candidates who saw the pencil upon entry, picked it up, and set it on his desk might be hired. Candidates who did not might not. From the time I was a little girl, I’ve been a pencil seer and pencil picker-upper. I want to usher Bambi’s mother to her safety, to her puppy in the field if indeed one is there.

But deer can have rabies, cute as they are, and my dog is nearly as big as she is, with paws that do asphalt and tile with speed, whereas her little hooves click and sclatter. He knows the terrain, and she does not.  He'd take one look at her and think "I got this." I do not need woman’s best friend chasing down Bambi’s mother only to end up with venison and rabies shots and sobbing. So I am doing my best to stay inside with my doggie. He seems a bit confused as to the enforced bladder control, but otherwise, none the wiser. (He's beautiful but kinda dumb). All good.

And me – I’m writing. This is what I can do. Waiting and writing.   Hopefully in a few hours, I’ll have good news for an update. In French they urge you: “courage,” which looks a lot like the word courage in English, as in, “be brave.” But mostly it seems to mean “be patient.” Maybe it’s a French thing. I’m going to try to be brave and be patient and not do anything to interfere other than hope the chevreuil finds her way home to her pup. Wish me luck.



Categories: expat, travel, & cross-cultural issues, writing & publishing, Animals

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