Friday, February 22, 2013

Encounter on a snowy road

photo of snow falling in front of pine trees
© harrington
The tops of the oak branches outside the window are covered with an inch or so of snow. This morning's flakes were small but multitudinous. Driving was like looking through a gauze curtain. In the dark, I barely saw the doe lying in the middle of the road. Whether she had run into or been hit by a car ahead of me (none were in sight) or has lost her footing on an icy patch, I'll never know. I was grateful that I had a chance to drive around her. Thank you all-wheel drive! I continued on for a bit and then called 911 on my cell phone (after pulling to the roadside). The person who answered seemed impatient to be done with me, perhaps thinking that I was reporting a deer crossing the road, not lying in it. She disconnected with a "we've got it, someone will check it out." Perhaps I'm being too judgmental in my impression that the operator was intent on clearing the line in case there was a real emergency. If some driver didn't see the doe in time to miss her, or if they swerved and went into the ditch, it would become a real emergency for someone as well as for the doe. On my way home, I looked but didn't notice any signs of an accident or blood near the road. Maybe everything turned out well for all concerned on a snowy Winter morning along county road 36 in My Minnesota. The situation reminded me of William E. Stafford's poem Traveling through the Dark. Car-deer crashes happen all too often. Clearly, wild animals haven't adapted to something traveling at 30 to 70 miles an hour. I'm not so sure humans are adapting well to traveling speeds at the higher end of that range. There's a saying I came across a long time ago that goes something like "just because you can do something, doesn't mean that you should." Sort of like Justice Holmes' analysis of falsely crying fire in a crowded theater. So, please remember that it is possible to go slower and still get to where you're going in a reasonable amount of time. This is especially true if the alternative may involve tow trucks, wreckers or ambulances. There's a reason we humans need to stop and smell the roses. It's hard to do at seventy mph. Speaking of stopping, I'll stop now and hope you stop back again. Thanks for coming.