Ravenous Bambi

at 12:35 AM

Bambi is relentless. Oh, sure, he's cuter than just about anything -- especially when he's new and tiny, all decked out in bright white polka dots. Those enormous, outsized ears, the tender inky nose twitching at the slightest hint of danger or excitement, the dark, moist, long-lashed eyes and endless spindly legs would make anyone smile and coo.

Anyone, that is, except a gardener.

Bambi, it turns out, has a voracious appetite. And he's not alone. Mother, aunts,
cousins and siblings join him on patrol, irregular brigades of Bambis fanning out along the edges of the day in search of anything and everything that might be tasty or digestible.

I know this, of course, having shared my forest home with Bambi and his crew for years now. I've got deer fencing around my garden beds, and the fruit trees are in their own secure enclave. Other plants are deer-resistant or ample enough to share. The yellow plum, for one, bears way more fruit than we can use, and Bambi's welcome to the windfalls and whatever hangs out beyond the fence. I'm thankful that I have this wild and lovely space, and glad for our -- mostly -- peaceful coexistence.

Recently, however, I transported a young Meyer lemon tree and left it, overnight, outside the fence. After breakfast, I found it barely recognizable; every leaf, bar none, nibbled to oblivion, branches utterly denuded and forlorn. It was my own fault, to be sure, but every single leaf? Talk about a low blow!

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Fortunately, the tree, which I immediately moved into the enclosure, recovered and actually looks better now than before its run-in with the Bambis. And I've relearned a lesson about being a good neighbor. Sometimes, it really is about good fences.

With a Perspective, I'm Peggy Hansen.

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Peggy Hansen is a photographer, gardener and wildlife lover based in Santa Cruz County.

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