By Amy Kuras
Because of my work schedule and my kids’ schedule, my garden time often comes late in the day, sometimes late enough that I’m racing dusk to get my chores done. It’s a very peaceful time to be there – golden light on the meadow, kids joyfully shrieking through the splash park, and the normal bustle of this busy city oasis beginning to slowly wind down.
A few weeks ago, I was puttering around in the garden when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I was scared at first, fearing a mean dog, but it was instead something so much better -- a deer! looking for food in the wild meadow that surrounds the garden. I know some people hate deer, because they are pests and will clean out months of hard garden work with a few minutes of munching –and believe me, I put the deer netting we were offered on my raised bed just like everyone else did.
But for me, a deer sighting is magical. I grew up in the city, and I never saw a deer until I was 24 and working as a reporter on Grosse Ile, a small island in the Detroit River. It’s still exciting and rare for me to spot them, and I relish their grace and loveliness and intelligent soft eyes. I knew they lived in the park, but I’ve hardly ever seen one. This time, there were two.
I haven’t been this close to one of these beauties. I was worried they might challenge me for my plants or something (again, city kid, I’m completely unfamiliar with wildlife, but ask me about cats!) but instead one of them, a female, kept munching milkweed and tall grass just outside the clearing of the garden area. Every now and again we’d look at each other for a few minutes, me delighted, her wary. She’d stare and then, flipping her tail like an irritated cat, she’d go back to her meal and I’d go back to my weeding.
Since we started this garden project, I keep thinking about the idea of something sparking joy. The garden has been an unalloyed spark of joy for me on many levels. And that night, it was the joy of communing with a wild and beautiful creature, both of us engaging in our evening chores. It’s one of the things I hope I always remember, and one of the many gifts from the garden I’ve already received.
Amy Kuras is Research and Policy Program Manager for Detroit Food Policy Council and member of People for Palmer Park.