|Early morning means waking, stretching and looking for water. The mother deer and her fawn begin their day wandering to the nearby stream. After a few hours of walking and foraging, there's a "ping." Then a ricochet splits the air. The deer knows what this means and she immediately takes flight with her fawn behind her.
In a tiny culvert, there's a perfect spot in which to hide her little love. With the white spots dappling his back, he can tuck away into the lee of a hill, under a bush, and be completely undetectable. There's no such cover for the mature deer, so she runs.
She runs and runs, finally leaving behind the pinging and crashing. Knowing where their hunting blind is, she can stay away from it from now on, but her baby is still back there. Yet she can't return right away, she must wait, to be sure not to encounter the hunters again, and also not lead the enemy back to her baby.
In a tree nearby, Mother elf calms her children. Things have been difficult lately because Dad is still far from home. Caring for four robust children is no little job. Mother feels exhausted.
Her littlest one, a boy, is teething, not sleeping, and fussy about everything. Her middle daughter is approaching teenage-hood and all that entails. Her eldest, Tad, worries her the most.
Tad seems bored these days. He's no longer interested in the day to day tasks necessary to keep everyone fed and safe. He ranges farther and farther everyday. It's a tricky balance: give Tad his independence and let him grow...while also keeping him close enough to satisfy Mother's need to watch over him.
The eldest is out, he has been gone all morning and he needs to come home. Needing an outlet anyway, Mother takes the fussy baby on her hip and goes to look for Tad. Walking through the shaded forest, the baby calms while looking at the whole world around him. Finally, Mother spots Tad and calls out. Her call reaches the boy and it happens to get the deer's attention also, unfortunately, it attracts a crow flying by.
Crows are an unremitting danger to elves. Once plucked up by a crow, an elf is rarely seen again. Here, this crow sees not one, but THREE elves, out in the open. What an opportunity! The crow swoops to get a better look. After circling, he swoops again, closer. Mother sees another dark shape a bit farther away in the air, it's not one, but TWO crows.
Being in the deep forest, there's not much ground cover. The tall, stately trees compete for sunlight high above. There's not much on the ground, little grass, few leaves, no bushes whatsoever. Mother and Tad run together seeking any cover possible. The crow flies closer, then they hear another crow calling...this is dangerous.
The deer sees the tiny elves running to the base of a tree, trying to find any way to hide...she also hears the crows and looks up. She sees the crows close by, ready to pounce.
By now, the elves have folded themselves tightly into a crease at the bottom of a tree, but there's no other cover...no grass, nothing.
The deer comes closer and the crow swoops, not liking those black birds, the deer jumps slightly and waves the crow off...from that pass. Mother sees the protective gesture, she cuddles the screaming baby trying to quiet him while she pushes farther in against the large oak. Tad stands bravely in front of her, trying in his adolescent best, to protect.
The deer walks closer and she sees the crow coming in for another approach. Noticing the elves in the cleft of the tree, the deer recognizes a mother, holding a baby and the teenage boy doing his best to stand up against an enemy. The deer walks even closer and lowers her head, snuffling the ground near Tad. Tad waves his arms and shouts...the deer senses his distress and seeks to console. She snuffles closer, then walks over the elfin family. Then she gently sinks to the ground. Settling herself, she pushes up against the cleft in the tree, effectively closing off any opportunity for the crow to reach the elves.
Tad strikes out at first, tiny fists punching pin-pricks of pain into the deer's backside. She understands and simply rests. Mother sees that the deer is not crushing them, in fact she's protecting them. Mom calms Tad, then turns to find that the baby is fascinated with the brown and blonde hair covering the deer's back. The baby uses fist-fulls of that strong hair to pull himself to his feet, then he toddles along the edge of this gigantic back, one hand at a time. The deer feels the baby, to her it feels like butterfly wings brushing against her hide.
The deer relaxes, then rests her head on the ground while keeping a look out for the crows. They're not far...she can see them resting on a branch, watching, waiting for their next opportunity.
Mother settles into the cleft of the tree, then pushes around the soft, warm dirt and makes herself comfortable. Tad sits and stares around as if he can't believe his eyes. The baby continues his exploration of the deer. For right now, everyone is relatively safe and comfortable.
Eventually, the warmth of the afternoon settles over everyone like a soft blanket. Cozy and settled, Tad leans against the tree and begins softly snoring. The baby climbs into his lap, using his thigh as a pillow, and the baby sleeps. Mom leans back and rests...for the first time this day, she relaxes and feels somewhat safe.
She doesn't understand why this deer has settled here, has intervened and waved off the crows. Right now, not knowing "The Why" is just fine; the fact is that the deer is here, she and her sons are safe, and for just a few moments, she can breathe. In a little while, she'll collect herself and create a plan for getting her boys back home safely.
Then there's a flitter above. Several dark forms fly quickly through the treetops, then the two crows take wing and follow their fellows. The threat to the elves has left.
Where or what the crows seek, no one knows, but the deer can see that they are gone. She gathers her strength, rises to her feet, then stretches her back and neck. Delicately backing away, she looks down at the tiny family that has been sheltering behind her. Lowering her head, she inspects them closely.
Mother stands, yawns, then sees the deer's face close to the ground.
"How to thank her?" Mother thinks. The deer snuffles again, and looks directly at Mother. Brown eyes meet brown eyes. Mother walks closer and extends her hands. As she slowly approaches, the deer is very still, simply breathing and watching.
Mother cannot know that this deer is also a mother, that this deer will be going back to find her fawn, and will continue tirelessly to try to keep him safe. Yet Mother senses the patience in this deer. Mother comes closer and closer until she can reach out and touch the deer's face. The deer is very still. Mother touches, then strokes, and feels the deer's warmth. Finally, Mother wraps her arms around the deer's snout and she leans in gripping her friend with warmth and love.
The deer, feeling Mother's gentle touch and the slight weight continues to be very still, but she closes her eyes. Heart to heart, they thank each other.
If not for the deer, the elves would likely have been a crow luncheon. If not for the elves, the deer probably would have continued to wander...possibly finding the hunters again. By huddling together, they protected each other. Now both mothers can go back and care for their children, and continue with their lives.
Will they ever meet again? Not likely. Will either mother ever forget this day? Absolutely not.
Regardless of form, background, or preferences, mothers recognize each other.
The love and affection a mother shows her children is recognizable in any place and at any time; that love transcends any culture, language, or physical difference.
A mother's love is a timeless treasure.
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