Being on the road in the early morning or early evening requires a heightened sense of awareness down our way. Cars are not nearly as plentiful as in the larger towns and cities and the roads we travel aren’t popular routes. But we have critters. Driving the AlCan highway many years ago, a moose left the imprint of her nose on my window as we both avoided a near-collision. I’m not quite sure who got the bigger fright. Since then I’ve been super cautious.
I love fast driving. At one stage I fancied myself as a younger Rosemary Smith. She still comes out in me occasionally, especially if I’m in a bad mood. But these days, I’m not usually in any hurry to go anywhere. I’m now one of those Sunday drivers I used to hate thirty years ago, motoring along at my own pace, oblivious to the tide of anxiety and frustration building up behind me. In fairness, I brought the Alaska rule home with me – if there are five cars behind me, and I’m leading the posse, I’ll pull over and let them pass. I’ve been known to do it for one, too. Keep your impatience; I don’t need it.
Driving is therapeutic. It gives me time to think. I like the nowhere land I go to in my head. And I like the occasional surprises. Like this morning.
I spotted a small herd of deer in a field. It was late for them. Closing in at 8 am. They seemed to be dithering about whether to cross the road, who’d go first, and who’d look after the babies. I passed them safely, pulled in, and got out to see what they’d decide.
The last deer crossing stood and looked at me, waiting to make sure that everyone had made it to the other side. It was only a matter of seconds, but it was so real. I nodded. She nodded. Each acknowledging the other. And then she went on her way, pleasantries over. Remnants of an Oscar Wilde poem came to mind – I looked it up but it wasn’t what I wanted. I found instead, one by Philip Booth
How to see deer Forget roadside crossings. Go nowhere with guns. Go elsewhere your own way, lonely and wanting. Or stay and be early: next to deep woods inhabit old orchards. All clearings promise. Sunrise is good, and fog before sun. Expect nothing always; find your luck slowly. Wait out the windfall. Take your good time to learn to read ferns; make like a turtle: downhill toward slow water. Instructed by heron, drink the pure silence. Be compassed by wind. If you quiver like aspen trust your quick nature: let your ear teach you which way to listen. You've come to assume protective color; now colors reform to new shapes in your eye. You've learned by now to wait without waiting; as if it were dusk look into light falling: in deep relief things even out. Be careless of nothing. See what you see.
Be careless of nothing. See what you see. I’m grateful for that start to my day. Happy to have made your acquaintance, ma’am.