Italian deer inherit the land

Some images work on your mind, whispering “story” or “metaphor” or “fable” or “warning.” Italy is freezing this winter, blanketed with quantities of snow unseen in many years. Here in the village of Alfedana in the mountainous spine of Italy, desperate deer have left the mountains to search for food where humans dwell. So that’s the basic story from the newspaper La Repubblica, where I found the image. But, you know, it could be otherwise:

1. A post-apocalyptic nuclear winter. Our species is gone and the beasts inherit the earth.
2. Santa’s reindeer enjoy a well-deserved vacation in a lovely mountain resort.
3. We’ve entered the world of the Brothers Grimm when the human-animal border was more permeable.
4. An Italian Wind in the Willows in which animals live in cunning little houses.
5. Someone with magic powers has called to the deer and they have answered, despite their fear of mankind.
6. The deer are just sick and tired of our taking their habitat and they are coming to get it back. Notice that they don’t stop at the stop sign. They don’t have to. They’re big and there are lots of them.
7. A scene from a little known Hitchock film, The Deer.
7. Some other possibility which I hope you’ll share with me.

In case you are wondering what Alfedana looks like in more typical times, here is a picture. A lovely village, very like Opi. Notice how the roof lines in the background mirror the slope of the mountain in the distance. Italian design — just can’t beat it.

Pamela Schoenewaldt, historical novels of immigration and the search for self in new worlds: WHEN WE WERE STRANGERS, SWIMMING IN THE MOON, and UNDER THE SAME BLUE SKY (all HarperCollins).

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