Where Greenland is Bigger than Australia
by David Henson, 3.49am March 10th 2022

The fellow from animal control introduces himself as Roger Dierman.


I notice there’s no vehicle in our drive. “Where are you parked?”


“I left the truck down the road. Nice day for a walk. I used to roam the trails here when this was all forest, and I was a young buck.”


As I lead Roger around back, he says that in woods-encroaching subdivisions like ours, it’s not unheard of for male deer to scent-mark by rubbing their foreheads against houses. He thinks the animal’s antlers might have marred our siding. I assure him the explanation is much stranger.

 

Roger agrees when he sees the stains, milky splotches arcing across a large area between the two bedroom windows. I tell him how a couple days ago I saw a buck rear up and brace its front hooves against the house. The beast hunched and grunted until it added to the expanding mess on the siding.


I lean close to an unblemished area and sniff. “The cedar is treated with preservatives. Maybe the chemicals on ours have a scent that, for whatever reason, excites the bucks?”  


Roger snorts. “I don’t think they’re excited as much as angry. This used to be their territory so they’re trying to reassert dominance.”


“By doing this on our house? Never heard of such a thing.” I suggest that he scrape a few samples from different areas of the stained wall. “Maybe a lab analysis would show if there’s a disease that could be causing such bizarre behavior.”


Roger takes out a pocket knife, then hesitates. “Bizarre behavior is in the eye of the beholder. I’d say clearing a beautiful forest is bizarre.” He looks around. “There used to be a creek.”

 

I tell him the developer of the subdivision had it diverted. “It’s going to be a hazard on the golf course they’re planning.”


Roger stares at me so hard, I put my hands up. “I don’t play golf.” The guy’s starting to make me nervous.


“The patches of trees that are left … does your homeowners’ association allow hunting?”

 

I don’t like where this is going and feel in my pocket for my phone.

“They should,” he says. I wasn’t expecting that. “The deer population’s already overcrowded. The golf course’ll make it worse. They’ll be competing for food, getting hit by cars, fighting, spreading disease amongst themselves, wasting away. Better to be shot.”


Roger collects the samples and says he’ll get back to me. I ask what I should do in the meantime. He suggests spreading repellent made from dried blood or coyote urine. Some people swear by shavings from a bar of pungent soap. But he’s not confident anything will keep away bucks as angry as these must be.


“I’ll be on my way,” he says and walks toward the stand of trees that borders our back yard.


“Where you going? That’s private property.”


“So shoot me. I know a short cut.”


Roger steps into the trees and falls forward. I hurry to see if he’s OK. When I get there, he’s nowhere to be seen, but I hear the sound of something moving away quickly through the underbrush. Guess he’s fine. Just then my phone rings. It’s the animal control office calling to say their agent is running late.


Trying to understand what’s just happened, I go back and stare at the stains as if they hold the answer. They form a shape that reminds me of something I can’t place at first. Then it hits me that the resemblance is to one of those wall maps which seems to be a splayed-out a globe. Where Greenland is bigger than Australia. When I was a child, I didn’t understand why they had to distort reality to depict it accurately. Now I do.