This adorable fawn was born a few days ago on Wolf Pen Mill Farm, the 420 acres I’ve owned for years ten miles east of Louisville, Kentucky, where I haven’t lived for decades.
The Farm is in Conservation Easements, held by a not-for-profit called River Fields, and if the goddesses are with us, as I am sure they are, this land will remain undeveloped indefinitely, home to all kinds of animals and birds, trees, wildflowers, and the tenants whose rents help me maintain the place.
We do allow limited bow hunting of the deer, which would otherwise eat the place up and eventually starve. The sanity of this method is proved, to me, by the birth of the little fawn.
The regular spring cleaning that was an annual event in our mothers’ and grandmothers’ houses no longer happens with any regularity, but there is one spring cleaning I can’t avoid: my outhouse.
In the spirit of truth, I must admit that I also have indoor plumbing so the outhouse is not as overburdened as the one Wendell Berry describes in his 1980 poem, “Purification.”
He describes digging a trench in early spring for all the “useless words, fragments, errors” that have accumulated on pages in trash baskets in his house.
Then he adds the contents of his outhouse: “light of the sun, growth of the ground, finished with one of their journeys,” adding his confession that “I have not been happy enough, considering my good luck.”
I took his example as a model when I emptied the contents of my Biolet, always daunting in anticipation but quite pleasant in actual execution.
Over the winter, everything in the tray has turned into a sort of lumpy compost. There’s too much toilet paper, though, which doesn’t seem to disintegrate, and I make a note to find something else to use.
I trundle the innocent and smell-less half-wheelbarrow full to my compost pile, where the winter’s vegetable and fruit skins and eggshells have already disappeared into the dirt. I dig a hole and add my load, closing it over with a prayer, as well as more dirt: that I, too, my be more happy, considering my extraordinary good luck in just about all areas of my life: work, love, family, friends, health…
And above all, I am grateful for the presence on my farm of the beautiful fawn, symbolizing health and hope in this sorry world.
[For more on my Biolet, see Cleaning Out My Outhouse.]