I spent a magical morning on Sunday driving around and snapping photographs. It’s so heartbreakingly beautiful around here, I just cannot feast my eyes enough.
It’s rural, and that means lots of animals. On my outing, I saw baby sheep, cows, deer, geese, fighting cocks tethered in their mini-quonset huts, goats, turkey vultures, hawks, an eagle, and horses. It’s glorious to see so much life, during the day.
At night, it’s a different story. A friend of mine, Gray farmer Dick Wood, made me laugh with this phrase: “The city folks come here to be among the farms and say ‘isn’t it pretty.’ But as soon as I come around with the perfume wagon, they start to squawk.”
The perfume wagon, colorfully, is manure, and is a natural part of rural living. The animals used for agriculture stay within their pens and on their ranches, but the wild animals don’t. Sometimes the two worlds collide. When that happens, you’ve got roadkill.
Driving along, I see the results of plenty of tragic accidents between cars and animals. The worst, of course, are the doggies and kitties that didn’t make it. I resolved that when I drive home from my friends’ house at night, I would not take the back roads, and stick to the highway, where there is more traffic and less, slightly less, chance of running into or over something live.
Because man, it’s dark. There are no towns between my friends and my apartment. There are no streetlights. There is no ambient light from anywhere, except the stars. While the main roads are well-maintained, the back roads have no stripes or fog lines to guide a driver.
Well, inevitably, last night it happened. I was tootling along at a cautious night time 40 miles an hour when a possum shot out from the left side of the road. I didn’t know they scoot along so fast! And I was the only car on the gol’darn road. I jammed on my brakes, but it was too late. I ran it over.
This was the first thing I ever ran over, and I hated that ‘THUNK’ sound. While I was relieved it wasn’t a cat or a dog, it still meant hurting a living thing and that hurt my heart. Getting used to it won’t be easy. But the reality is, being in a rural area means the clean and the messy, the nice and the smelly, the births and the deaths.
In other words, in all its sorrow and glory, life.