Life Interrupted

It was a beautiful, clear, crisp November morning. The sun has made its way up in the low horizon. I was scurrying my way to work and just pulled out of my driveway. My car clock said only eight more minutes till eight o’clock, which is the time that my first patient in our clinic was scheduled to be seen that day. But nothing to worry. I would make it on time. Even though my office is 8 miles away from my home, it only take me 10 minutes or less to drive there, as there was no real traffic to talk about.

I was speeding down the lonely but scenic, winding country road from my home to the interstate highway when a deer out of the woods bolted into the road in front of my car to cross to the other side. I had to slam on my brakes hard so not to hit the deer. By the way, this is the stretch of the road that I see a lot of roadkill. Good thing there was no car behind me, nor in-coming vehicle on the other lane, otherwise it could have caused an accident.

But what followed the jumpy deer was six (yes, six!) more anxiously looking deer that dashed across the road a few feet in front of my car. They must be traveling in herds. I had to come to a complete stop to let them all cross to the other side. Now I would be late. Darn deer!

We don’t like being interrupted. Whether it is somebody rudely butting in when we’re speaking, or someone disturbing us when we are quietly meditating, or somebody ruining our set schedule or plans, or deer jumping in front of our way, hindering us.

But was it me that was interrupted by the deer, or was I the one who interrupted the deer’s peaceful existence. By the way, it is mating season for them and they are constantly on the move. (November has the highest incidence for deer-related vehicular accidents, and Iowa is rank #2 among states in the US with the highest car insurance claims relating with deer collisions). Or maybe those deer are running away from someone, as they looked scared, for it is also the peak of hunting season.

As I continued my drive to work, after being unceremoniously stopped by deer, I saw a flock of geese in flight, maybe 10 or more of them, in their beautiful V-formation. Perhaps they were flying south for the winter, as the air had really gone cold here in our area. The harsh winter is coming, so they are fleeing to a much warmer place. But they will be coming back here in spring. That is the cycle of life.

geese in V-formation

As I marvel their majestic flight, the geese suddenly broke out of their orderly V-formation. There was chaotic flapping and confusion that followed. Then I saw one of the geese spiraled downward to the ground.

It took me a moment to realized what I had witnessed. I surmised that a hunter somewhere nearby, perhaps hiding in the fields, had shot the goose and hit it. I am not a hunter, and have no desire to be one, and so my heart goes out to that poor bird who was taken down abruptly out of its flight of passage.

I want to slow down and find out further what happened to the flock of geese, but I was approaching the interstate highway, and besides I was already running late. My view of being interrupted have completely changed in the past few minutes. I cannot shake the sight of that hapless bird plummeting down to its death. Talk about life being interrupted ….. permanently. And I complain just because I was delayed for a few seconds?

I was in deep thought when I was again interrupted when a big semi truck pulled close behind and overtook me on the interstate highway. I then became aware that I was driving slower than the speed limit. That has never happened before.

(*photo from here)

Roadkill

The two-mile stretch of country road that I travel everyday from the gate of our housing community to the interstate highway is a winding, hilly, and scenic route. It is here where I pass by corn and soybean fields, cattle farms, horse ranches, creeks and ponds, prairies and patches of wooded areas.

It is also in this lonely road that creatures other than human, cross and pass by, especially at night. No, I’m not talking about ghost and ghouls. I am talking about animal creatures. Unfortunately to say, it is also in this road that I frequently see dead creatures. No, not zombies! (I don’t believe in those.) I mean roadkill – animals killed by passing motor vehicles.

Maybe it is because the road is winding and there is a lot of blind turns. Or perhaps it is because the road has no street lamps and is very dark at night. Or maybe the drivers are speeding in this stretch of road, as they know there is usually no police cars patrolling this area. Or perhaps the drivers are looking at the scenic surroundings that they are not paying attention to the road. Or maybe the animals are jaywalking and not obeying the traffic rules. Whatever the reason is, there are frequent hit and run animal victims here.

I have seen dead deers, squirrels, chipmunks, possums, raccoons, badgers, skunks, rabbits, and fox on this road. At least I have not yet encountered a stray cow on the road, though I have seen horses, but with a rider, trotting at the shoulder of the road. I have even seen a snapping turtle cross this road, but it made it to the other side alive. Makes you wonder why the slow turtle crossed safely while the faster rabbits and deers did not. Of course I know there are hundreds of animals that crossed without accident, we just don’t see them. All we have evidence of are the mishaps.

I have been involved in a few close call and near misses with crossing deers on this road. Maybe I was slightly above the speed limit, but definitely the deers were not crossing in the designated pedestrian lane. Oh I forgot, there is no designated deer pedestrian crossing lane. And if there is, it would be ignored anyway. I mean, ignored by human drivers, for the deers may dutifully use it!

Who said deers are not following traffic rules?

One morning, a few days ago, as I was driving that road going to work, there was again a roadkill. I think it was a raccoon. Another unfortunate being who met their tragic demise because man invented the wheel. On top of the dead body was a creature garb in black. No, it was not the grim reaper. And no, it was not mourning over the dead. In fact, it was feasting on the tragedy of the other. It was a vulture.

As I was approaching, the vulture would not fly away and leave the carcass, instead it stubbornly held its ground despite of my speeding car, that I had to swerve to avoid hitting it. Maybe it was really hungry. Or maybe it was too greedy. Or maybe it was too foolish. Or  it was too foolishly greedy. It should be thankful I did not run him over.

That afternoon, as I was returning home, I noticed that in addition to the raccoon’s carcass in that road, there was also a pile of black feathers beside it. I surmised what happened. The one feasting on the roadkill, also became a roadkill. What a terrible tale!

People sometimes are like vultures, taking advantage and exploiting others’ misfortune. Let’s be wary or we will meet the same tragic fate.

(* image from here)