Nado and I stepped out of the cabin one morning just before sunrise. Thick mist swirled through the timber like cream freshly poured into hearty coffee. The crisp, cool air filled our noses with the musky scent of fallen leaves and damp earth. In short, a perfect fall morning promised a beautiful sunrise as the reward for rolling out of bed early.
About fifty steps into our walk, I heard a low, whistle-like animal call. I’d lived in the city for many years and was rusty on animal sounds, but decided it was probably a wild turkey. I used to love to mimic birds and squirrels, so I whistled my best reply. I was thrilled to hear the turkey call out again.
“Ow-heee,” I whistled to my new friend. It replied again, but this time it sounded closer. I wasn’t worried. Unlike coyotes, turkeys have no interest in eating humans or old dogs. I decided to continue the conversation.
I wondered just how close the turkey would get, when the sound of branches moving and leaves crunching met my ears.
Another call, a lot more guttural and less whistle-like raked through the mists. I might have been city-fied, but I hadn’t been gone that long. Unless Big Bird was roaming wild, my whistling friend was not a turkey. I decided there had been enough chitchat. Nado and I continued on our way. Our chatty friend followed for a while, but without my replies, it eventually took a different route.
I asked someone about it before returning to the cabin, and she giggled profusely. Apparently, she’s heard that sound during deer mating season. We joked and laughed about my hidden sex appeal that can attract young bucks with just a whistle. I had no idea I was really saying, “How you doin’?”
It was a good laugh, but it turns out that the sound actually comes from fawn calling to their mom (which sometimes happens during mating season). Later that day, I noticed the twin fawn that often grazed through my “front yard” were alone. I’d seen them many times, but never without an attentive doe. No one is supposed to hunt on the property without written permission, but people breaking the law don’t tend to ask for permission. Someone had taken down the doe and left the twins.
The fawn weren’t nearly scared enough of me, so I yelled and chased them a short ways. They needed to learn caution. However, I also set out a bucket of water a good distance from the cabin and left some apples near it just to give them a day to sort out that their mom wasn’t going to answer. They consumed both and slept by the bucket that night. Fortunately, another group of deer adopted them the next morning.
I’m not sure if it was the hunter, a doe, or the fawns themselves chatting with me during my early morning walk. I could have been prey, predator, parent, or potential mate depending on how the other end of the conversation perceived me.
Life is like that, isn’t it? Others define us based on their expectations, needs, and desires. They hear our “whistle” and decide what we are to them regardless of our actual intent. There’s nothing wrong with that. You and I define other people just as often as they do it to us. It only becomes wrong when we aren’t defining ourselves—when we let other people place us in boxes that have nothing to do with who we are or want to be—and when we refuse to see that someone else doesn’t belong in a box we assigned to them.
I’ll come back to that idea and others related to it in later posts.
Meanwhile, I want to share a great book with you. My good friend, Ryan Murdock, recently published his story about traveling through remote parts of the world. You can read my review of it on Amazon. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, and it touches on the idea discussed above with plenty of wit and adventure.
Take care until next time,