The one TV show I watch each week in real time is CBS Sunday Morning. I like the mix of in-depth news and art, music, biography, and nature. This morning they did a segment on groups of people--from the entire NBA in Disney World, to families in the suburbs--who are living in intentional "bubbles," staying safe during the COVID era by only exposing themselves to a limited number of people. I know that a lot of us are doing this these days, expanding our families just a bit so we can stay social and human while staying safe.
I was reminded of this segment tonight when I got to watch my favorite vineyard white-tailed deer family meet up with another family to form a special little deer "bubble" of their own. My favorite doe has three fawns this year, including a special one with extra white markings ("Betty White"). Tonight, as happens many evenings, her family of four had met up with a doe with two little ones, bringing the total to seven. I watched them emerge from the woods and take a saunter across the field toward the apple trees as the sun began to set.
I was, of course, projecting human qualities onto the deer, but it was pretty beautiful to see them all together, after I had spent time thinking today about how important it is that we deliberately seek out the villages that it takes for us to raise our children. This seems to stay vitally important, even under (and maybe especially during) extreme circumstances. I grew up in a neighborhood of free-roaming kids, and the parents and grandparents on the street all kept an eye out for us. These days we can tend to carve out our own spaces, complete with video screen windows into the rest of the world, so it is pretty great to gather round the table (or safely outside, when our bubble expands for an evening or two). Seeing the two does peeking out watchfully from the woods together, I couldn't help but wonder what they might be communicating as they watched their five little ones munching and prancing all together.
Back in the Age of Travel, I got to see and photograph herds of elk, pods of dolphins, prides of lions. Around here these days, that doesn't seem to happen so much. But three cheers for the flocks and pods and extended family and every other kind of connection which we are working deliberately to maintain and appreciate. We're not supposed to be living in isolation--together we learn, bump up against each other, and learn some more.
I couldn't have felt more fortunate than to see--by chance--all of these beautiful animals together here tonight. I've sometimes spent hours just sitting outside and waiting, hoping that the deer will appear before it's too dark to see and photo them. This was a lucky moment, to see this band of sisters and brothers and mothers, and to feel the natural affinity among us, as we walk along together for a little while.