This morning I photographed a beached jellyfish with a rainbow in its body, a fawn’s torn-apart carcass with head, torso and legs separated by several feet, two clumps of silver beachweed with light purple blooms, and a goldfinch on a fencepost. As an amateur naturalist I am trying to be okay with the fawn event, knowing all things die, sometimes in indescribably horrific ways. I don’t know the story; I simply report on what I see now, or rather, an hour ago at the beach. The Pit Indians say that the clear springs on Mount Shasta are the tears of all deer, because deer don’t cry out when attacked. Four years ago I called the local marine mammal recovery line to report a large but extremely thin, dead sea lion washed up on a beach on an early morning like this one today. The woman who answered my call was generous and gentle with her empathy for the sea lion that—she helped me understand through a quick Q&A— was a female that had probably starved on an offshore rock when she had no more energy to swim and search for food. Then the woman shocked me by going through a sea lion grief process with me, though I didn’t feel grief until she worked me through it. While I stood there with fresh tears, the woman was saying that no one would come pick up “the body,” as she called it, saying this death was part of the sea lion’s natural life cycle, and that now was the time the sea lion would be picked apart by animals until she finally went back to the sea and the earth. If this were two hours ago I would say this: I see a young buck and a young doe out for a stroll on the country road, walking ahead of my car. When they turn and see me approach, they stand watching, unaffected. I pull up to within a dozen feet of them, and we all wait for a while, idling, drinking in the fresh spring.
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