Over Easy: Deer, Santa — it’s the season for both in the Upper Valley

For the Valley News
Published: 12/9/2022 10:49:10 PM
Modified: 12/9/2022 10:50:06 PM

Oh, deer. I barely missed hitting one this week as I drove from West Lebanon to Hanover. It sprang out in front of my aging Honda Fit on Route 10 as I was minding my own business and observing the 40 mph speed limit.

Neither my car nor I am in a hurry anymore. But the deer was. It burst like an Olympic sprinter. It blurred right past me, just avoiding my bumper and, possibly, disaster. That second — it felt like a millisecond — jolted me more than a strong cup of coffee.

Deer are a fact of life in the Upper Valley, but their presence in my yard and nearby streets is fairly new and has been accelerating. We do not live in the country; we’re just one street away from the main road. For 30 years or more I’d never seen one in my neighborhood, although a leggy young moose once ambled by, looking aimless and with time on his hands.

We first started seeing deer when they slipped into our yard at dawn in late winter. I figured they were short of food up in the hills where the zoning allows nature. They snacked on our euonymus, a green and yellow tasty thing. This year they stripped it in November, way ahead of schedule.

Of late I have even seen them out of season. One morning this summer I woke up early to sit on the little patio in front of our bungalow. I had just heard that it’s good for your circadian ebbs and flows to get sunlight exposure soon after waking.

As I read quietly I sensed movement. About 10 feet away stood a deer. I stared at it, it stared at me. Sizing me up as poor company, it hopped a little to change direction, and sprinted off to who-knows-where. (I suspect woods by the Connecticut River, or the Circle K, perhaps, if it favored beef jerky or hot dogs that cook on metal rollers.)

Not being a naturalist, or country-wise, I don’t know what to make of deer in urban spaces. I thought of their arrival as an incursion into our space, but I know at some point we’d barged into theirs.

More routine are visits from skunks, opossums (one hissed at my daughter from atop the woodpile next to the house, which was rude), and moles or voles that make my lawn even uglier. We have the usual little birds, nervous-Nellie squirrels, and crows who come and go.

Mosquitoes and black flies (and regular flies) seem rarer in our little one-third acre. I don’t know if that is good or bad, since nature is mostly inscrutable to me. But even if you try to ignore it, it comes leaping out in front of you.

That could make you think about life, chance, the dangers we never see coming, the difference in outcomes that can change in a second. But that morning I was listening to sports talk radio, so I tried to go back to worrying about the New England Patriots offense, an issue that is bigger than all of us, apparently. It is a distraction, but there are times I welcome it.

A lighter travel moment was the arrival of Santa Claus last Saturday in a city tour arranged by Lebanon Recreation, Arts and Parks. He was escorted around the city, accompanied by an elf or two, the rest presumably working overtime at North Pole, Inc. Although we are past the age when we will provide an account of our good and bad behaviors, barring a subpoena, Dede and I headed over to Mount Lebanon Elementary School to observe the excitement. It was considerable prior to his arrival.

Despite the rain, little kids were running in little packs, in bursts that suggested they were so charged up they might throw off sparks. When Santa pulled up, the smallest ones backed up, not knowing what to make of a big guy with a white beard and red suit who was ho-ho-hoing all over the place, But older brothers and sisters took the lead, accepted little bags of treats and grinned in front of the Jolly Old Elf while adults snapped pictures. The littlest looked sort of baffled, which resembles my own outlook on this holiday season.

All I got was an itty-bitty candy cane from an elf, and a shoutout from Santa, who knew me by name. He called out as they drove by, “I know you, but you don’t recognize me,” and I replied, “Sure I do. You’re Santa.”

He winked — or should have — and then he was off.

Dan Mackie lives in West Lebanon. He can be reached at dan.mackie@yahoo.com.

Sign up for our free email updates
Valley News Daily Headlines
Valley News Contests and Promotions
Valley News Extra Time
Valley News Breaking News

Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784


© 2021 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy