I grew up thinking I was Algonquin Snow White, identifying most with my 1% of Native American blood. I’d journey into the woods of my backyard and wait to have a vision quest. Sometimes I’d see a turtle or rabbit, but a deer was the ultimate reward. I found them to be stunningly beautiful, elegant, and graceful. Years went by and I watched their families come out into the open, proud that they chose our house as a safe place to eat.
Then one terrible day, I was driving home from a New Years Eve party. Mr. Deer, certainly not from my neighborhood, plowed my car creating excessive damaged and pranced back into the woods. After my car was fixed, a week later, I drove uneasy to a friend’s house. I was on edge, worried if someone’s cousin was ok, and then I got hit in the same side that had fresh paint. However, this time, the deer fell into the side of the road. I swerved into the other lane to block him from oncoming traffic. I cried watching him twitch in pain, horrified I couldn’t help. The police soon came, pulling up to a hysterical girl. They told me to leave, then they commanded me. I drove in disbelief, hoping I didn’t kill such a beautiful creature.
The next morning, the cop called my house. He told my mother, “Please tell her the deer is fine. His parents came for him, and they walked back into the woods together.” It wasn’t likely, but I believed in the tale anyway.
Years later, I found it comical that the cop called my house to console me. Maybe they understood the animal felt like family to me. Or maybe, like the Japanese, they felt they were in the presense of the divine.
Far from home now, my deer interactions had been few yet blissful. You could imagine my surprise when I found out that there was a deer park in Nara, Japan where the deer bowed for cookies. Years ago, the Japanese believed them to be divine animals and were fed like gods. They had grown cocky since, still bowing quickly but then demanding their treats. The noble decendents were actually pretty aggressive, sometimes biting scared school girls in the butt. In all fairness, we were properly warned…
Nara itself, Todai-ji Temple and Kasuga-taisha Shrine, were enchanting places to explore. I must admit I was quite distracted by the deer, and didn’t give Nara the admiration it truly deserved. Upon taking a second look, the grounds gave the experience a genuine fairytale setting – the ultimate place to feel like Algonquin Snow White.
© Faith’s True Tales 2015. All original words and images by Faith and Nathan Brady.