My little mountain town has been occupied by deer. They started appearing after a couple of years of hard drought, enthusiastically eating the roses, nibbling on landscaping, crossing Main Street during rush hour. Since then, they have sent thought-mail invitations to all their friends and relatives, so we have quite a crowd. In fact, we now have fawns born to does who were born to does who have never lived in a forest. Sometimes I am tempted to produce a coffee-table book entitled, "Decorative, custom-made deer fences." I've admired some beautiful and functional barriers designed to keep deer out of the garden. And I've admired many a massive stag, standing tall and proud on a front lawn, posing with his magnificent rack. A couple of days ago I saw two tiny, still wobbly fawns just where a side street empties into Main. They were weaving in and out of traffic, blinking at cars and looking for their mother.

At peak breeding season, anyone who is walking their dog down a quiet street is asking for trouble. It happened to me. Alex and I sauntered along an empty sidewalk when a doe appeared across the street, looked at us funny, crossed over, and started following us with a fixed and determined expression. She didn't care about me, but kept her glare firmly centered on Alex, who was leashed and was getting increasingly nervous since he had no idea why she kept getting closer and closer while looking incensed and confrontational. We couldn't shake her until a lovely couple volunteered to distract her long enough for us to make a clean getaway. Since then, there have been several "incidents" where deer, their newborns hidden in nearby bushes, clashed with leashed, owner-walked dogs in some peaceful alley. I hear the does are mean boxers.

We have all learned to replace gnawed plants in front of our houses with new flowers that are guaranteed to be deer-proof. We have learned to drive extra-slow so we can stop on a dime whenever a deer tribe decides to run in front of our wheels. Do we want our town back the way it used to be? Not me. Lyme disease, cougars and coyotes notwithstanding, there are no body-lines as graceful as a deer's. There is no family tableau as precious as a doe, a couple of aunties, and twin fawns cavorting on the sidewalk and then making impossibly graceful jumps over a high fence into some pasture land or somebody's treasured garden. Most of the human population of this little mountain town has learned to accept sharing our space in the same way the deer used to have to share theirs with us. The rest  grumble more or less quietly where no one is watching.

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    Kris Heywood lives and writes in a small mountain town of Oregon.