Thursday, August 2, 2007

An Exaltation of Larks

Since I haven't written about our deer since the end of June, it's time for an update. In the mid-90s a dozen apple trees were transplanted from the grounds of the original motherhouse in Erie to the Mount, behind the back parking lot, right next to the tree line. During the last month the first of these trees have begun producing this year's apples and the deer have gone wild! Here is our present herd as we know them: One solo doe practically lives in the orchard. She's there every morning, throughout the day, and every evening. If you arrive home in the pitch dark and turn your car lights toward the orchard, she is always there--- sometimes alone, sometimes with others. We still have the two doe and their fawn: one quite small and the other medium. One or both pairs come every day. The lady across the street who lives on the hill next to Glinodo says she has seen a doe with identical twin fawn, but I don't know of anyone who has seen them on our side of the road. The two young bucks are around, but not very often. Maybe when the rest of the apple trees produce they'll be lured back. There are probably a few others among our herd, too; it's hard to tell who's who.

The best thing about the increased sightings is the increased sightings! All of our guests are seeing the deer regularly. Nearly every breakfast and supper has people at the dining room windows watching the adult deer up on their hind legs stretching for the fruit while the fawn romp around and mimic their mother's behavior, getting their apples from the ground. If a walker is on the path or just standing watching them from a distance, they don't seem to mind. But get too close and they will disappear into the woods---just waiting until you leave to return and continue their feasting.

One of my favorite quirky books is An Exaltation of Larks (James Lipton). It contains over 1,000 group names. Here are a few: a leap of leopards, a smack of jellyfish, a kindle of kittens, a watch of nightingales, a charm of finches, a string of ponies, a tissue of lies, a parliament of owls, a college of cardinals, a skulk of friars...and on and on and on.

If you like these kinds of word games, here's a listing online of more group names: