Tales of Oregon

Deer Fences

Thursday, May 16th, 2013 - 4:22 PM

This is the oddest weather I could imagine. One day we’re sweltering and breaking century-old record high temperatures, and the next day we’re ten degrees cooler than we’re supposed to be and blanketed by fog – and I mean all four types of fog: sea, ground, middle and high fog. Makes it look like twilight all day.

Turn-Up-The-Heat has happened twice in the past month, and both times the heat came on a Wednesday. Not Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday or the weekend. Mid-week. I’m not sure if I should read something mystical into these weird Wednesdays, but if it happens again, two weeks from now, I’m going to have to ponder what it means.

We have three lawns. The front lawn which all nice and green and lush. The side yard is just converting from a dandelion patch to grass. The back yard is half lush and half in transition from dandelions to grass. All three are large lawns and each of them is a challenge to mow. None of them is symmetrical – the backyard is the most asymmetrical – and I spend as much time preparing them – cutting in all of the nooks and around the trees and bumps – as I do cutting the main areas. It takes more than one tank of gasoline and almost two hours to cut the lawns, and yesterday was Mowing Day.

Yesterday was also Thursday and the end of Wow-It’s-Hot Wednesday. The morning started normally, with the sun popping above the hills when I hauled out the lawnmower, but then, halfway through preparing the front lawn, the fog started sneaking in. You see it first as it slips up the valley and the creek, and then you can see it start to creep along the road, and finally it starts to filter through the trees and the sun gets all blurry-edged and the light get weaker and weaker.

There may not yet be a need to look into the mystery of hot Wednesdays, but there is, without doubt, something mystical about Cool-Down Thursday. The sea breezes return and the pines begin to whisper with their “SSHHH-ing” sounds, the air begins to sparkle, and all the colors get more vivid.

I was mowing the grass and it came to me: the sea was reasserting it’s mastery. I’d cut a row and turn around and could see the ocean physically pushing the heat back into the central valley where it belongs. Cut and turn and the heat was 500 feet further back, Cut, turn, watch. By the time I finished the backyard, the heat was gone, the sun was dampened, and all was how it was supposed to be, again.

No blustering or storming around in a meteorological tantrum, just an irresistible return to how the coast works. The ocean dominates our climate and, yesterday, you could see it as it pushed back against the wrong weather. It ranks right up there among the Neatest Things I’ve Ever Seen.

You know that we built this impenetrable fortress around the garden? I’m of mixed feelings: are we unwilling to share with the deer, or are we insisting that deer should learn to eat what deer were designed to eat? There’s plenty of deer food around, but they’ll take a free buffet whenever they can get to it, so maybe we’re encouraging them to eat what’s natural.

But now we’ve – and by “we” I mean Barbara – has strung heavy fishing line between some trees out front. We have young apple and pear trees out there and the deer definitely went to lunch on the branches last year. The theory – born from something she read on Google – is that when the deer walk into the fishing line, it freaks them out and since they can’t see it, they won’t try to jump over it. It’s meant to be a cheap way to fence out the deer.

It doesn’t work. They won’t jump over it but they surely do bend down and walk under it. I’ve seen them do it but since Barbara hasn’t seen it, she’s not sure she believes that deer are smart enough to walk UNDER her clever fencing. I showed her a deer track in the yard, beyond the fishing line, but she was unimpressed. One should never let facts interfere with a fine theory…

I think the only thing the fishing line is good for is throttling me if – for some random reason – I decided to run into the woods. I’d be running along and all anyone would hear would be “Ow!”, TWANG, and PLOP!

Google is evil.