On A Wildness Experience, Near Home
I had always kind of considered wild animals to be stupid, inhuman. Like they are lower creatures that domesticated animals or civilized humans. But this Summer, my opinion on the wild animals of the forest changed when I met Rodriguez. For most of the year of 2018, my best friend, Ramzi, lived at my home in the room across the hall. The parking pad of my parents’ house is pretty small, as the house is ontop of a hill. They live on a five-acre lot in the middle of the woods, about 30 minutes away from civilization. The Occoquan river flows in their back yard, and the driveway is long and gravelly. Ramzi parks his 2008 Ford Escape at the top of the driveway in perfect position for squirrels to store acorns inside the engine. One day, Ramzi walked up to his car to take his car out, and next, my dad was walking down the driveway towards the house with a baby deer in his arms. That’s how we met Rodriguez, a wild newborn deer, still learning how to walk, and separated from its’ mother. It was starving, immobile, terrifyingly thin. But most of all, it was absolutely adorable. Even though it was a girl, Ramzi immediately named her Rodriguez, to my parents’ annoyance, and the name stuck.
It took all day to get some food to Rodriguez. We called authorities, and they asked us if we were able to save it ourselves. Ramzi and I ended up feeding her warm milk out of a plastic bag, pouring it into her mouth until she figured out how to drink. Later that night, Rodriguez was able to stand on shaky legs for the first time. Around that time, my yellow lab, Riley, had made fast friends with Rodriguez, and the two walked around our yard together. By nightfall, Rodriguez stumbled into the woods with Riley, where a small group of deer waited about a hundred yards away. Riley returned alone.
This experience taught me that there are no ‘lesser creatures’. Looking into Rodriguez’s eyes, I could only see myself. It was intelligent, and seemed self aware, even as a newborn wild animal.