It was eleven months ago that I began this journey to come home to the mountains. They were pulling me and calling me home for over 20 years. And this month I can finally say we are home. Or should I say that we now finally have a home! It remains today a site in progress with much remaining to be done–but we have moved in! So much about it is perfect in our eyes–and yet there is a remaining undercurrent in both my husband and myself that stirs up guilt. Early on in this journey we purchased an almost uninhabitable piece of mountainside–steep and rugged and we picked a house site and dug a well. Even in those early days I felt as if we had scarred this mountain by putting a deep hole in it for our drinking water. As the months passed, each adding to our home and yet each adding something that is not natural to this mountain at all–our house. Today I am writing from my office in our loft area and still find myself feeling a question of “what have we done?”
And so we now live in this beautiful mountain setting complete with wildlife and amazing silence! I drove to work one day this week and just as I topped the mountain I saw a 4 point buck standing in the middle of the gravel road! Such a majestic site–and I worried about him as it is hunting season and the sounds of gunfire can be heard from time to time during these days. I know how many deer there are living among these mountains and their population has to be controlled–but it is hard for me to know that he is a sought after target on these crisp fall mornings and I may never see him again. He was a perfect animal, so strong and beautiful to look at as he stood for a minute before leaping over the side of the road and down the mountain. My gravel road takes me through hillside patures dotted with cattle. It is such a serene site to see them grazing peacefully day after day. There are rabbits who bound off the road as I approach as well as little chipmunks. Driving on I saw a flock of turkeys foraging on a hillside–I counted 10 in this one this morning. There were horses and their now almost 1 year old colts grazing on the hillside as I continued to make my way to work. These creatures are a daily part of life here and I am thrilled that I find myself now living with them!
But I have to share with you a rare sight that I saw a few days ago. Rare even for this locale–it was a an almost completely white deer! Some call it a Spirit Deer. There are those locally who say this deer is not a true white or albino deer, but a piebald deer–one that has both white and brown spots. I could not get close enough to get a truly great picture–but this was the only time in my life that I have ever seen a white deer. I didn’t see any brown spots on this beautiful creature–and I am afraid I may bore you but I will put a few pictures here so that you can see that she changes positions. There are many native American legends and others about a beautiful white deer. One in Virginia specifically tells us that the young Virginia Dare had become a white deer and returned to human form only at her death from a hunter’s arrow.
I can tell you that it indeed felt completely magical or mystical to see her standing on a hillside among the trees. I now find myself looking for her every time I pass by that same spot. And I say a little prayer that she will not be the victim of a hunter, because her being in these mountains is such a gift to those who see her. Her beautiful white coat however makes her a much easier target for her natural and human predators in mountains. Of course you know that I came home and did some research on white deer and a Spirit Deer and I will share this below with you.
“This white one represents the sacredness of all living things and they should be left alone, never hunted or bothered. When we see them, we should take notice of our own spirituality and think about where we are with it.” White Deer; Ghost of the Forest by Jeff Richter and John Bates.
And so to be able to live here in these mountains among the natural setting and with all these creatures as neighbors is now a reality. Perhaps I can become a caretaker of a sort, or a quiet observer. And I hope the mountain will in time forgive my intrusion and over the years to come begin to see me as a part of it–just as it does the wildlife that call it home. It called me and I am finally here.