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Roadside Warrior

I first saw him against the light of a still moonlit morning sky. He was standing at the side of the road, statue-like. I slowed to get a good look at him. Then he lifted his head as if to say ‘look at me.’

For that fleeting moment I was in awe of what nature had given this majestic wild deer. He displayed a massive rack of antlers — at least 10 points. I believed him to be the alpha male among the deer kingdom that roam Oglebay Park.

His stout neck and body told me he was no youngster. This guy has been around a while, escaping any hunter’s aim amid the safety of the no-hunting zone in the city park we locals simply call Oglebay.

Many of us have complained about the over-population of deer in our neighborhoods as we encroach upon their homesteads. Yes, they eat our flowers and enjoy every last bite of our foliage. And yes, hunters fill freezers and bellies as they thin the herds with their bows, arrows and rifles.

Yet I could not help but smile at the sight of this glorious creature of the wild. He had managed to live an obviously long and peaceful life amid the golf courses, cabins and woods of the pristine park. I know it has been a challenge for the park’s horticulturists to keep the deer from emptying the gardens and cascading baskets of the spring and summer flowering beauties, but one look at this deer made me grateful he beat the odds.

It can’t be easy dodging the vehicles that travel through his neighborhood. And he has to compete with other creatures of the forest — fox, coyotes — though I think at this stage he can handle just about any foe. He is a symbol of good living and hard work.

We could learn from this animal. His ability to survive the elements of his outdoor life are noteworthy. Not like us. As the temperature drops, we run for shelter in front of a warming fireplace. We light a stove and enjoy a hot meal. Our socks are warm and dry and we snuggle under Aunt Mary’s patchwork quilt.

But not everyone is as lucky. Right now Youth Services System’s could use some help keeping others warm. If you have an extra blanket, warm clothes, boots and any other creature comfort, drop them off at YSS at 87 15th St., Wheeling. You will be doing your part to help others who choose to live on the side of the road.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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