"Deer and Fawn," chalk pastel by Maria Theresa Maggi

“Deer and Fawn,” chalk pastel by Maria Theresa Maggi

Summer Greetings, Dearest Reader. It’s been a long time. Before Summer turns to Fall, I wanted to share with you some of its gifts to me this year. I discovered that after so much practicing and watching of  videos of how to cut up mangoes and trying to perfect my technique over the years, that my absolute favorite way of eating it is to slice off a cheek along the pit and stand at the counter looking out at the trees and eat it by scooping the flesh out with my teeth. When the mango is just right, it’s almost a religious experience for me.

I have adopted the plant-based version of Medical Medium eating and information. It started in preparation for dentist appointments last Spring that required preparation and installation of two new crowns, and it went so well that I haven’t looked back. Those of you who have read about my previous tooth adventures  can probably appreciate how significant this is. It’s been fun to see correspondences and differences in all plant-based approaches and put all the pieces together in a profoundly healing way that works for me.

I got a new glass slider, replacing the original one (most likely dating from 1976) and now I can open and shut the door we use all the time without planting both feet on the ground and pulling or pushing with both hands as hard as I can. Here’s a peek:

 

There is one more most magical development interwoven with all these others. There have been deer wandering through our neighborhood on the regular this summer, enchanting us all. I wrote what became a little essay about how it’s affected me, and wanted to share it with you as a kind of love letter for being such “dear” and tender and supportive readers all these years. I hope you like it:

I keep looking for the deer. My neighbor said it was a young buck possibly. Did you see it? she said when she dropped off a few groceries for me I’d asked her to pick up on her way home from work. “Oh, it was right over there in front of your house, then across the street, just grazing, very comfortable.” She thought I had been at my window. That he had then slowly made his way behind the house across the street.

But I had not been looking out the window. I had missed that he was out in the street or just beyond the culvert that rounds the corner at the edge of my property.

Usually I would have been disappointed, bereft, or berated myself that I had not been paying the right kind of attention to the right things at the right moment. But instead I was intrigued that one had come so close. In the day that followed and now this evening, I have continued to look at the empty space where he was, and to say, he was there. It’s part see if he’ll come back, but it’s also more to feel his presence where he was, right there, out my window. That he could come back at any time. Maybe even bed down under the cedar and hemlock across my gravel driveway..

It finally grows too dark to distinguish the trees beyond the driveway except for where they brush up against the sky. But the feeling he could appear is still with me. And it comforts.

It’s somehow right alongside what is actually happening, but informing it in some way. Reminding me of love we don’t know we have, but which is there nonetheless. Reminding me of a surprise conversation I had with an old friend, a man I loved deeply a long time ago, who still inhabits my dreams every now and then. This man called me out of the blue to apologize for how he handled things so long ago. It was stunning to hear how he’d felt all these years and that he’d always loved me. Again, alongside. Not in the sense of what’s actually happening. He is now married happily and has a beautiful son. Long ago I was married, sometimes happily, and I had a very young son. Yet I loved him deeply, despite being faithful to my husband. But elsewhere, in the space where the deer might appear, I loved with a depth beyond understanding, that I just accepted, that inspired me to write some of the most beautiful words I feel I have ever written. And still do.

It’s a mysterious and yet strangely familiar feeling, being next to something that does not manifest in the usual way, but is always with me. Like looking for the deer, knowing I won’t see it because I’m looking for it, but feeling that it had been there, and might be there again, whether I’m there to see it or not, connects me to the spirit of that deer. And helps me welcome it to become part of me in a way I don’t understand but accept. Real, but unseen.

My neighbor Tim was here to show me the extra stuff he would need to install the new slider he helped me order and that he has generously offered to install himself. He was standing facing the slider and I was facing him looking at the tablet he had his list on. He pointed out the slider and said, “Deer.”

I turned around. There he was, the young buck, across the street coming down the driveway toward my house. He was beautiful, with a little rack starting on his head, all fuzzy. He took his time. He looked right at me and me at him. Then he slowly made his way to the left a little. I got the impression that if I had not walked toward him or seen him he might have come up my gravel drive right toward the door.

My neighbor said it was the same one he and his wife see visit their backyard. There is more than one visiting our neighborhood these days. A female was photographed coming up the steps from the beach a couple of mornings ago.

I have been talking about deer a lot all of a sudden, telling the story of how I came to have an American Indigenous traditionally tanned hide that I’m sitting on as I type. So many years ago I was once again nursing a broken heart (different man than above, but same heart to be broken). I had picked the deer from the Medicine Cards before going to bed. It stands for unconditional love, and tells a story of how deer climbed a mountain to meet Spirit and tamed a great monster that wanted to block the way, simply by being determined in a gentle and loving way. That night as I went to sleep I asked the Spirit of Deer to be with me and my broken heart. In the morning I set out to run to the nearby grocery store. I had promised my ten year old son and his friend who slept over that I would get them some donuts. As I went out to get into the car, I saw a heap of fur on my front lawn. My heart lurched into my throat, thinking that maybe a dog had been hit. But no. It was the furred skin of an animal among the fallen leaves. I have no idea how it got there.

I called a friend of mine who was married to an Indigenous man who was also a hunter. I called Fish and Game. I asked some discrete questions and learned enough to understand it was against the law to keep a hide if you had not hunted the animal yourself. And yet how could I throw this pelt out? My friend’s husband had said it was a deer pelt. He thought that maybe a dog had carried it away from someone’s house who was butchering a deer he’d hunted. My prayer to the Spirit of Deer came back to me. The deer had given its life already; how could I dishonor it by throwing it in the trash? My friend and her husband offered to keep it in their freezer until I decided. My friend’s husband said he would ask if someone on the reservation would be willing to tan it for me. It stayed in the freezer a long time. But when the time was right, we drove to the reservation to meet an indigenous man who had listened to the circumstances and agreed to tan it for me in the traditional way. It wasn’t a large pelt. Maybe just the top and the side of the animal. Even after it was so beautifully tanned and so very soft, you could still see where the bullet went in.

I am dumbfounded this afternoon that, at last, I saw the deer. And not very far away. The deer have been with me off and on in my imagination for years. They are in a few of my poems, signaling a state of trust, one I gravitate to or wish to sustain, even as it is about to be shattered. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen one up this close. Or maybe even ever. And yet, they profoundly affect me, their quietness, their grace. So long ago when perhaps a dog left what I came to know was a pelt from one that had been hunted, I treasured the message of the deer. Now that I have seen one look me in the eye, what will come next?

It is a grace beyond words in these perilous often lonely times to have looked at each other, and to know, whether I see him or the doe again in real time, they have come to where I live, they are here, among us, making their magic in my imagination manifest. There is still the possibility of seeing the deer.

There is always the possibility of seeing the deer, my lovely readers.

Maria (moonwatcher)

PS: Also this summer, I enjoyed writing this piece on the upcoming Aquarius Full Moon for those of you who are so inclined. That space is where I do most of my writing these days. Maybe it’s because I have Venus in Aquarius, but The Fifth Dimension version of the song from Hair makes me cry in the best kind of way.

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“Washed Up Tree Trunk with Roots,” memory sketch by Maria Theresa Maggi

On Valentine’s Day 2022, it is my 14th anniversary eating low fat whole food plant based (and vegan) and the 26th anniversary of receiving the diagnosis of MS. I try to mark this day each year with a post. This year I’m obsessed with the idea of roots and foundations. This tree with its root ball currently washed up on our beach has kept this image in the forefront for me.

As you all know from my recent post “In The Running,” I serendipitously took up jogging one morning on the beach last August, to lift myself out of the sadness of missing my dear foster grandbaby. I haven’t looked back since. Every morning on the beach or on the streets of my little neighborhood if the tide is too high, Cotton and I are jogging. This has caused some stir of notice from my friends and neighbors here—since they notice I have more energy and am doing something I didn’t seem like I could ever be able to do.

I’ve noticed it’s made my legs stronger as well. The other day I was squatting in the yard to plant some early greens in a pot in seed form and I noticed with delight that I was quite comfortable just squatting there and would have no problem getting up. My legs have become strong enough to allow this more easily, and I am glad, because it’s one of my favorite positions and I have been sad to see my stamina in it erode slowly over time. I welcome this noticeable improvement.

It’s easy to say it’s the jogging every morning bringing about these improvements in stamina. It reminds me of when I got Romeo years ago and people started to notice I was walking all over the place with him back in Moscow. They immediately attributed this ability to his presence.

And it was his presence, just as the jogging has improved strength and stamina and losing those last couple of pounds (though I don’t weigh myself or count). But what everyone is so willing to miss –because they don’t want to have to do it themselves?—is that the way I eat provides the foundation that makes these things possible. If I was eating any other way at this point in my life, I’d be fighting to keep myself out of the wheelchair—or would mostly likely already be in it.

So this this just a little reminder—and a salute—to the way I’ve eaten for the last 14 years—and how it’s strengthened my body and clarified my mind so that I could realize a relationship with a dog I’ve always wanted, and I could find the wherewithal to try jogging several yards on the sand when I had no idea if I could. Eating low fat whole plant foods makes all the best things in my life possible. And so, Happy Anniversary to me! And deep gratitude to this movement that has rescued the quality of my life and lifted it to such a wonderful experiential viewpoint. And thank you to you all for wanting to read along about the good things that have come into my life as a result—which includes all of you. Much love, dear hearts, this Valentine’s Day and always.

Heart Envelope chalk pastel by Maria Theresa Maggi

“Heart Envelope,” chalk pastel by Maria Theresa Maggi

 

Maria (moonwatcher)

PS: If any of you, especially long time readers, have favorite or memorable blog posts from here, please tell me which ones in the comments. Thank you!

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Squash Milk

January 28, 2022

I was recently reading a LiveKindly article about how mainstream chefs are being compelled into plant friendly and vegan recipes by the rising tide of interest in eating vegan. The article also touted young food influencers eating and cooking and foraging vegan–and in this mix, along with The Korean Vegan and Alexis Nicole (blackforager on […]

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Season’s Greetings, Doodles, and Stories

December 13, 2021

Holiday greetings, my dear readers, however you celebrate, It’s  been a while since I’ve posted so I thought I would try to catch you up a bit. As I may have mentioned, one of the things I turned to that helps me cope with missing my foster grand baby is what I call “doodling.” Months […]

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The Quality of Mercy. . .

October 31, 2021

. .is not strained; It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. . –The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare Though my neighborhood is not formally a retirement community, the lion’s share of my neighbors are retired. in addition […]

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In The Running

October 7, 2021

When we head down our street toward the beach each morning there’s two ways we can get to the access. One is to turn left and the other is to go straight and into what looks like a dead end with a house facing the ocean before turning left and eventually ending up at the […]

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In Honor of The New Moon

October 3, 2021

I have a new post about my slow miracle in the works, but in the meantime I wanted to share with you all another slow miracle accomplishment. I have finally, with the help of friends, figured out how to get paid subscriptions up and running to my Substack Newsletter, Maria’s Star Garden. If you enjoy […]

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Pieces of Process

September 6, 2021

The emptiness that engulfs my family now that my foster grand baby has been returned to their birth mom is like nothing else I have ever experienced. It has been nearly two months now, and so far birth mom has only responded minimally to emails and has not responded to any requests for visits, in […]

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Lazy Black-Eyed Pea Pancakes

August 25, 2021

I’ve had this book since before I got the diagnosis of MS, so it has to be longer than 25 years. I remember standing in a bookstore chain that no longer exists in the days I was a Laurel’s Kitchen vegetarian and being drawn in by the lovely art and the stories and all the […]

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An Announcement to My Subscribers

July 27, 2021

Hi There Dear Long Time Readers and Subscribers, If you are subscribed to get e-mail notifications when I put up a new blog post, the service that used to provide that, Feedburner, is discontinuing this function. So Susan Voisin, my host at Fat Free Vegan, graciously signed my blog up to a new, free service […]

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