The best pet ever

I grew up on a farm in western Kansas. My family are generational grain farmers. June is the time for winter wheat harvest, or as I learned, the time to make assembly line sandwiches for those hard-working combine drivers. Liverwurst was my all-time favorite, served with a thick tomoato slice hot from the garden, salty potato chips and a crisp apple. The years all seemed to blend together, lining up the bread, applying the Miracle Whip, except for that one. That was the year my brother brought home a baby deer.
Bros & pets
This was a twin deer, the other’s life cut short by the combine blades. Such is farm life.

I was so thrilled to bottle feed the little deer. We kept him in a little pen for safety from coyotes until he was big enough to fend for himself. Then he was free to roam the countryside.

But he didn’t roam far. He followed me to the school bus every morning and waited for me at the end of the drive every afternoon. I would call his name and he’d come running from far away places.

Charlie was particularly fond of catfood and Wheat Thins, and romping around in play. As he grew older, he did show wild tendencies, once giving me a fat lip as he reared up.

Eventually my sweet pet wandered away. We didn’t see him for a couple weeks. I’d call and call, but he no longer came running. He did return for a random day. Seemed he was saying goodbye.

Charlie meant more to me than just having an unusually charming pet. Charlie connected me to nature, linked my heart to the smell of the earth, to all of creation that speaks in soft whispers. During my awkward 8th grade year, Charlie brought me profound joy. My heart weeps in melancholy as I reflect on his impact and only now understand the depth of the gift that I was given by his presence.

Those who have the opportunity to drive across Kansas typically feel that the state is quite blasé. Growing up only 10 miles from I-70 in desert climate, my perspective was quite different. After all, I had the best pet ever.

16 thoughts on “The best pet ever

  1. Rachel says:

    Adored this post, and will enjoy sharing it with my children tomorrow. 🙂 (I’m glad to see you’re teaching some art classes again…I know that is so meaningful to you!)

  2. Tracy Augustine says:

    Amanda, I sooo remember Charlie. I love the story. It brought back such fond memories of years ago…


  3. Arti says:

    What a beautiful post and moving story. Thank you for sharing, the photos and your experience with Charlie. This is extraordinary!

  4. michelle allen says:

    what an awesome story. loved the pictures, especially the one where he’s jumping up on you in the kitchen and your expression. darling.

    any yay on the running!!! bring your shoes to artfest and let’s go for a joggy jog. 🙂

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