Friday, January 22, 2010

White deer

Those of you who've read Diana Gabaldon's latest novel, AN ECHO IN THE BONE, may remember Lord John's story about the white deer:

“In the evenings, quite often, deer come out of the forest to feed at the edges of the lawn. Now and then, though, I see a particular deer. It’s white, I suppose, but it looks as though it’s made of silver. I don’t know whether it comes only in the moonlight or whether it’s only that I cannot see it save by moonlight--but it is a sight of rare beauty.”

His eyes had softened, and I could see that he wasn’t looking at the plaster ceiling overhead but at the white deer, coat shining in the moonlight.

“It comes for two nights, three--rarely, four--and then it’s gone, and I don’t see it again for weeks, sometimes months. And then it comes again, and I am enchanted once more.”

(From An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 95 ("Numbness"). Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I didn't realize that white deer actually existed, until I saw this video, which shows several white deer in Wisconsin. They're really quite beautiful, mysterious and exotic-looking creatures.



Thanks to Electra on Compuserve for the link! If you want to join in the discussion on Compuserve, the thread is here.

I have wondered, reading this scene in ECHO, whether the white deer might be Lord John's "spirit animal", in much the same way that Ian's is the wolf or Jamie's is the bear. It's actually a pretty apt metaphor for how I feel about Lord John. When he's gone from the story, I don't really miss him -- being too caught up in the lives of the other characters -- but I always enjoy seeing him again.

5 comments:

Aven said...

I remember seeing this video last year. Really neat. My grandparents used to put corn out for the wild turkey and deer on their property (approx. 300 ac. in AL). One year a hen (not sure if female turkeys are hens or not??) brought up her babies, and one of them was an albino. I'll have to see if they have any pictures.

B Lines said...

When I was a child, my family would travel from Shreveport, LA to a small town in Arkansas, to visit my grandparents. There was a farm somewhere in between, that evidently raised white deer. My siblings and I would watch for that farm every trip, hoping to see them. We often saw the herd grazing along the fence line. I had forgotten that until I read your post.

Cathy said...

I really liked that scene in Echo. I know many don't like the relationship that has developed between Lord John and Claire, but I do. I thought it added an interesting level of complication. I really love Lord Johns character and read of the Lord John books as well. Thanks for the pleasant reminder.

Jamie & Claire Tour said...

I've never heard of white deer in real life. How enchanting. Thanks Karen - another good find! Samantha

Karen Henry said...

Samantha - Nice to see you here, and glad you liked the video! I didn't know they were real either until someone posted this link on Compuserve. Fascinating creatures, and quite beautiful.

Karen