Once spring brings new fawns, it isn’t long before the yearlings separate from the does and join the herd. I thought maybe it was the presence of a new baby that signaled to the yearling to leave her mother’s side.
Yesterday morning I think I saw how the separation actually occurs. A spindly-legged tiny fawn and her yearling sister wandered the field as their mother lay in the grass watching. The rest of the herd was grazing elsewhere.
Every few minutes, the yearling trotted up to her mother. The first time, the doe stood and chased the yearling off. After a minute, the yearling moved close again, as though she hoped for a little comfort after a rude rejection. Once again the mother chased her off, without violence, but with unmistakable firmness that I could feel from the top of the hill where I stood.
Navigating beginnings and endings is a challenge for most of us. Relationships often have to change, sometimes they end. Even sending beloved children out into the world can be a tough transition.
After a couple more tries, the yearling seemed to accept rejection. For the next 20 minutes, while I watched, she stayed within eyesight but never moved in close to the older doe again.
One early morning observation isn’t science, but I think I know what I saw. The yearling needed a determined maternal push in order to move on. She had to come to terms with a change she wasn’t prepared for.
Whether the mother struggled with the change we will never know; but I do so envy her ability to know when, and how, to let go.