Oh, Deer!

While life in the country is amazingly beautiful, it can also be treacherous. Judging by the increase in road kill as the weather gets nicer, the poor little critters think so as well! I know it’s sometimes unavoidable and the instinct to protect car and human life takes over, but I am such a wuss.

Okay, Okay, I admit to slowing way down to granny speed at night, with brights on, searching the roadsides for glowing eyes ready to dart out in front of me. You would not believe how long it takes me to make the dark ride down Carmen Road from Route 31 to Lake Road after a late movie at the Sunset Drive-in. My family scoffs at me for my hyper-vigilance but, hey, what’s the rush? As long as there’s no traffic to tie up, I prefer to skulk along at high alert. Oh, don’t think it’s just for the sake of the possum family. I do want to save them from extinction but I also want to save myself from crying and upchucking because I killed a living thing. I feel so sorry for the critters on the highway, who died because humans took over the right of way, I offer up a little prayer for their critter souls and pray I don’t add to the mortality rate.

How bad does it get? If I can, I try to open windows and coax flies on their way rather than swat them. I catch spiders and bugs by letting them walk on the end of the paper or whatever and then carry them outside. I HATE flies, wasps, most spiders, anything that buzzes in my ear or bites and other pesky pests. Just because I wish them gone doesn’t mean I can kill them. It’s icky! When I have to swat a fly, and we ALL have to eventually, it bothers me. I just can’t get past the killing thing. Maybe that’s why the sound of guns during hunting season can make me cry. Some early Sunday mornings, so close to wooded areas near my home, I am overwhelmed by the repeated gunfire. It saddens me.

My brother was not yet 18 when he was murdered by a bullet to the head…while on duty at a US Marine Base in Georgia. I was 18 and remember to this day the way his face was inflated by the force of the bullet. One trigger pull and we all suffered for so long. I don’t want to take away anyone’s right to bear arms, but the sight of a gun leaves me weak and breathless. I guess my horror with death was formed way back then. It still holds fast.

I wrote a story once called the “Night of the Bunnies” about a time when my cat decided to raid a rabbit nest and bring home the tiny, defenseless animals, too young to be away from their mothers. It’s a heart-wrenching tale of my long night trying to stop the inevitable loss of life (better left unread, I’m sure). I don’t profess to be a saint. I accept death as part of life and my lifestyle contradicts my feelings on killing. No, I am not a vegan, or vegetarian or whatever (aren’t plants living things after all?). I am a meat lover for sure, and eat more than is probably healthy, but if I had to kill my own dinner I’d be eating a lot of Rice-a-Roni. Nope, just couldn’t do it. I suppose it smacks of hypocrasy that I would let someone else kill my food for me, but I admit it. Not a saint; just a wuss.

Anyway, back to roadside critters. When the frogs in the bogs on Hartland Road start hopping across in bunches, expect to see me slowing down, peering over the steering wheel driving their froggie obstacle course. Ditto for the big fuzzy caterpillars who meander across the road come fall. In the meantime, there are plenty of bigger critters to avoid. My good friend was hit by a deer the other night…again…on West Somerset Road. In the previous incident, her car suffered quite a bit of damage. Well, she has a new car, and even though she was horrified to see the face of the deer hit her car,  she was able to use OnStar to call the sheriff before assessing the damage. She was amazed to see that the plastic fender just popped back out, good as new. The sheriff was out looking for the deer, who may have been seriously wounded. I prefer to think it was just shaken up and went right home to share the tale of its harrowing encounter with a human. I am very, very glad my friend is uninjured and her car is okay, but I need to believe the poor deer is okay, too. I know that most hunters use the venison for food, just the way I love a good steak, and it’s part of the cycle of life. I just can’t deal with strapping the animal onto a vehicle as a big trophy and parading it around. Once I saw a recently killed doe with sunglasses, a bandanna and a fishing cap on, sightless eyes staring from the truck hood, and it filled me with rage. I’m sure there were a lot of beers behind that get-up. To feed your family is a right and necessity. To celebrate killing is callous and sick.

Killing is a scary thing to me. I can’t watch movies or video games that inflict injury or death on living things (aliens and dragons in the fantasy realm excluded). What a contradiction we humans are! The critters must think we’re crazy!

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