Spring brings life … and death

Skeletal Surprise

Yesterday as Wonder Spouse and I were wandering around the yard picking up sticks, I stumbled upon the above. It was nestled in some dead Bamboo Stiltgrass next to the creek. I think it was a baby deer from last season. I know that does hide their newborns and fawns in tall grass while they forage, and I worried that some disaster had befallen this one’s mother so that she never returned, leaving this little one to starve to death.

But Wonder Spouse, who has much more experience with skeletons that I do, took one look and pronounced it a stillborn, basing his conclusion on the small size of the skeleton. As I took pictures of it this morning before I buried it, I realized that I can’t see any front leg bones. The skeleton is remarkably undisturbed; the back legs and even the tail bones are quite evident. Unless I’m just not seeing those front legs, perhaps Wonder Spouse is right and this was a stillborn, one with a mutation too severe to survive.

As much as deer damage to my plants makes me crazy, you’d think I’d rejoice in the knowledge that at least one didn’t mature to dine on my daylilies. But there’s something about young ones; death of such innocents, regardless of species, always hurts my heart.

My heart was already aching from the disaster that befell my state this past Saturday. North Carolina often gets strong spring storms that occasionally spawn tornadoes. But it is very rare for us to be subjected to multiple, long-track supercell-spawned tornadoes — hundreds of them, some miles wide, many traveling for dozens and dozens of miles.

As is usually the case with tornadoes in North Carolina, most of them tormented our Coastal Plain region. The Piedmont was mostly spared. Raleigh, which was hit hard, is right along the fall line — the line that marks the transition between Piedmont and Coastal Plain.

In my barely Piedmont home about 45 miles west of Raleigh, I knew the storms were bad as they boiled the sky above us on their way east. The birds disappeared; wildlife was utterly silent. All of us held our breaths as the barometer fell, the winds tossed trees, and blinding precipitation fell. The winds and unsettled skies persisted for several hours. The birds didn’t re-emerge until the sun showed its face again.

But I barely noticed. I couldn’t stop watching the television coverage of what was happening just to my east — homes and businesses erased, lives lost — leaving me to pray for those suffering, and for a tranquil transition from spring to summer for all of us from this point forward.

In light of this demonstration of spring’s destructive power, I thought it best to conclude with a reminder of spring’s promise of new life. Here’s a growing bud from my Ashe Magnolia (Magnolia ashei). When it opens in a few days, I’ll show you what a spectacular specimen of springtime it can be.

Magnolia ashei flower bud

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