The reason this is significant is because I was driving home from Crossroads today and I came upon a tableau where there was a man out of his car trying to discern what was wrong with this lady on the side of the road who was crying and heaving and looked like she was throwing up or something. At first, I thought she was ill, because she was so clearly distraught. I stopped too and got out. Found out she had killed a raccoon crossing the road and she was beside herself with anguish because the raccoon had a baby in its mouth, which was now scared and hiding in the brush.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone that upset about hitting an animal. It really made me wonder if there was anything else going on for her because her reaction was that it was a terrible, terrible tragedy and it was all her fault. Another person stopped eventually and between the four of us, we reached the local park ranger who came down with a box, and put the baby into it for the lady. She had calmed down by that point, and drove off with the baby raccoon in her van because the ranger didn’t have any way to care for it.
While we were waiting for the ranger to get there, she told us that she feeds the raccoons in her backyard, giving them cat food and grapes. I say she has a heart for animals and will probably raise this one herself, or let her daughter have it, who also apparently loves wildlife. The animals in my own backyard have been destructive, with the deer eating our grapevines, our grapes, our hostas, a fledgling tulip tree, and other flora. And the animals in my parents’ yard — the chipmunks who ate right through things, the raccoons who discovered the trashcan and dumped it out night after night.
I thought about my reaction, vs hers. In the animal kingdom, s**t happens. I think it’s part of being an animal. Yes, it was sad for the little raccoon that he lost his mama at such a young age, but I think it’s part of the reality of life.
But somehow I’m not completely comfortable with my lack of compassion for this little raccoon. I don’t know who else the lady has to care about — maybe she is alone — but I have a pretty full plate of living, breathing beings to take care of. Maybe that’s the difference. Maybe not. But I’m glad for the little raccoon that he had an adoptive mama right there to take care of him.
2 thoughts on “What I Saw on the Side of the Road”
I'm with you – *hi* does happen out in the wild. I don't think we're dead to pain and sympathy. I just think we've had some wilderness experience on Hwy X that other people probably haven't had. Hope you are well?
One of my favorite books as a kid was by Ernest Thompson Seton – “Wild Animals I Have Known.”
Great book. One of the most clear assertions he repeats over and over is “No wild animal dies of old age.”
Not “Only a few” – NONE.
Sounds kind of drastic, but it also speaks to me about being insulated from wildness in my life. Maybe why I like to read Jack London so much.