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Tomorrow one of my most important tasks is to go dig up three flowers that made it through the fire. They were what remained after the day of the fire.

The three flowers, two Red Hot Pokers (Kniphofia uvaria) and one Moonshine Yarrow (Achillea ‘Moonshine’), are as sturdy a plant that comes. Even so, I am worried about digging them up. If I don’t dig them up they will be trampled by excavating equipment so I don’t really have a choice. It would break my heart for them to have survived the fire only to die in a dirt storm. red hot poker plant in bloom

I cannot decide what to do with them. I thought I should transplant them to some far reach of the yard where they would be safe from construction traffic. I worried though about transplant shock but more than that my inability to get water to them while they reestablish themselves. We have no water coming to our property. Hauling water would be possible but it is a goodly way up the hill with the water bucket and if I were to miss a day or three they could suffer. I think I have decided to put them into grow bags for the summer and then transplant them in the fall. I knew I would be sans garden this summer so had purchased a few grow bags to have at least a remembrance of a garden. Perhaps my Achillea and my Kniphofia will be happy in the company of a tomato or two. I shall plant a few annuals to keep them all company. Marigolds, I think. Their pungency will keep the bugs from the lot of them.

I won’t even try to deal with the deer. I shall put the plants on a high deck here at the house where there is no chance that a deer or even a bunny could reach them. They have had a hard time growing since the fire. Each time the leaves start to rise and the flowers start to bud the hungry deer eat them. For years the deer never touched those plants, they tasted bad, I suppose. At least they were suppose to taste bad. In the hungry times after the fire and before any vegetation has returned any browse, tasty or not, has been consumed by the hungry deer.

We drove up to the house on Wednesday last week to check the staking of the corners of the house and along the way saw our deer. They were standing in their typical habitat, the ravine by our house. It was almost as if

they still perceived the trees there along with the belief they were hidden by the brush. They watched us drive by, heads swinging as one, without any sign of concern. Before the fire they ranged through our yard snacking on the native browse and occasionally a flower or two but they would trot off if you headed out the door. On Wednesday they took us in and just acted as if we were just there and not of concern to them. Of course, we would not do anything to harm them but communicating that to a wild animal is not always the easiest. I never wanted deer that would eat out of my hand. I know I could have trained them to trust me that way but they are wild creatures and I did not want to make them my pets. It was bad enough that my driveway provided a special platform for them to reach trees that they could never have reached without it.

There has been controversy as to whether it is good tha

t the deer return to their pre-fire locations. I have been encouraged by their return and when I look at them I want to say that I am glad they are home and I will be soon. Some animal management people have had concerns that the deer were “resident” and that was not normal, that there was some loss of their ability to care for themselves. The logic is that with the vegetation in the area burned away the deer should naturally seek other areas where there is vegetation.

dog running through area live but chared trees following a fire

The remains of a thick grove of trees above our house, the deer’s home before the fire.

I am not sure I know quite know how to feel about this. I am happy to see “our deer back home.” I do get the point of the appropriateness for the deer to move to a different habitat.

I think the deer are like we are. When we do something that is successful we want to keep it for a reminder of our success of X task. When it changes we try to incorporate the change into our contented habits rather than changing our habits and effectively incorporating us into its habits. In the garden snarled in the Yarrow, burned almost beyond recognition, I found what I could just make out was the engraving part of a lacquer that had been given to my by colleagues i recognition of work I had done. I am not big on plaques which is good because I don’t get them often. I did dust this one off and put it into my box of pathetic fire-scraps. Today when I walked by the box i the car I wondered to myself if I could get a new copy of the plaque. When I thought it I admonished myself that it was gone and that iI should not be so vain.

I still want it. IT reminds me of something good, something like my knopfhila and my yarrow, like the deer and what they derive from being in our space. It is something that holds us to accountability and to responsibility at the same time it warms us for having been accountable and responsible in our behavior.

I will go and dig my plants up tomorrow. They have graced my yard with their blooms for three years. It is my responsibility to be accountable to them and to the world for the beauty they bring. It is as simple as that.