Saturday, February 5th, 2011 • 3 Comments on Oh, Deer
I’ve been driving the same little blue Miata for eighteen and a half years. Same car. I hang on to the things I love, you know? I’ve never hit anything in that car before last night. That’s pretty good luck, right? Despite last night’s minor accident, I still think my luck is pretty damn good.
I live in the ‘burbs surrounded by a lot of trees. I would call it a forest, but the ‘burbs continue to encroach on what was once nothing but forest so that now it’s pockets of trees surrounded by houses rather than the other way around. The road I drove last night used to be nothing but forest. A few years ago they bulldozed the trees to put in a stretch of pavement, marked it as 50 miles per hour and neglected to put up any streetlights. It’s a convenient road to take, but no one bothered to send a memo to the wildlife who populate the woods around it that they should probably move somewhere a bit safer. The amount of road kill the first few months after the road was put in was frightening. It looked like the animal version of Death Race 2000. There are still regular killings on this road, mostly because people fail to obey the speed limit and go 65 on this dark stretch of road.
Last night, coming home rather late from an evening out, I was taking my usual route home. Going the speed limit, I might add. Two deer crossed the grassy median right into my path. Deer sightings aren’t unusual around here, despite the fact that they really don’t have much of a habitat to call home. I’ve seen them standing off to the side of the road occasionally—usually not spotting them until I’ve nearly passed them. Last night was really no different. I saw them when I was practically on top of them, when it was too late to slow down and give them time to cross. The first one got out of the way, but the second one wasn’t so quick. I braked, but there was no real stopping distance. I didn’t swerve—they tell you not to—it’s more dangerous I suppose than keeping to your lane and just going forward—but I always doubted I’d be able to follow that rule when an animal was involved. But I did. The thud made my car shudder. It’s a small car, lightweight. I thought for sure the entire front end must have fallen off with that thud, but no… the car seemed to be intact, nothing clattered behind me. I didn’t see the deer after impact—it was too dark to see anything behind me. I made an illegal U-turn and went back along that stretch several times, going far below the 50 MPH speed limit to see if I could spot the deer. But no, it was gone.
I drove that last mile or so home, shaking and tensely alert. Miraculously, the only damage to my car was a broken parking light. No blood, no fur. Jay thinks the deer must have kicked the car and broken the light and I suppose that’s possible. I hope that’s what happened—the thought of some poor deer laying in the woods with a broken leg breaks my heart. Honestly, it all happened so fast—sofast—I couldn’t really have said. I remember the deer freezing in the glare of the headlights just as the phrase goes. And then this little sideways scamper as if it was trying to back up. Then the thud. Then darkness in front of me. A crazy moment of time and then it was over.
I suppose it’s amazing that the damage wasn’t worse. My car is so small that full-on impact with a deer of any size would have done serious damage to the car, if not to me. I was lucky. Hopefully the deer was lucky, too.