One of the Gang of Three

This winter has felt out of balance, and I am not just talking about the polar vortex. The white-tail deer haven’t come calling. Minnesota is suffering from a dwindling deer population. The deer have not wandered through the woods behind my house, taking afternoon naps nestled on a hillock or tripping the security light at night. I look to nature for balance. I look for the deer.

My father died in December 2012. The week after I returned from the funeral, and on into early 2013, the deer came, nearly every day. I found in my grief a sense of peace watching the Gang of Three, as I came to call them, sleeping, eating, balancing my world. There was one lame one, and he needed more sleep than the rest. But the others never left him. They nudged him when evening closed in and it was time to move on to other feeding grounds.

I looked for them every day. And then one day came the Gang of Four. Four deer who appeared to me to be younger, healthier, less patient. I couldn’t imagine them waiting for an injured comrade. Unlike the Gang of Three, which leapt through backyards from neighborhood to neighborhood until they reached the big park down the road, the Gang of Four were rebellious and daring. They clattered right down the middle of the road.

I preferred the Gang of Three and began to think they had been sent to heal me. In Buddhism and legend, the deer represents innocence and a return to the wilderness. Ted Andrews says in his book Animal-Speak: “When deer show up in your life, it is time to be gentle with yourself and others. A new innocence and freshness is about to be awakened or born. There is going to be a gentle, enticing lure of new adventures.”

In that winter of my grief, it was the perfect medicine. I needed to be gentle with myself and to have the hope of new adventures. I needed to rebalance. I needed the deer.

So every year I hope the deer come back. We all need more gentleness, balance, and new adventures in our lives.

In the spirit of balance, I offer you tips on “How to Make a Balanced Breakfast” from my dear Rubbertoes. View and enjoy. Especially the thrilling conclusion.


Deer are an essential part of balancing Antigone Brown’s life in Book of Mercy. Check it out.

Maya Skye seeks balance in Down Dog Diary, and that begins a chain reaction of trouble.