Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Big Ship, Dead Deer

This ship passed by the gallery while I was working the other day. I happened to have my camera, so snapped a picture. These huge freighters used to dock at the breakwater, right downtown. They dwarfed the buildings on water Street and loomed like skyscrapers above their roofs. Now they all go past us, down to the new terminal at Estes Head. I think everyone misses them.

Today I had stopped for gas and from the vantage point of the Mobil Station I witnessed a deer hit by a car only a short distance away. It was unbearable to watch the beautiful animal struggling and thrashing, resting, and then fighting some more to get up on its feet. After a few minutes it gave up and lay there, most likely terrified in its last moments. A police car pulled up, and though I looked away, I heard the gunshot that finally killed it.

I was on my way out of town, but I couldn't bear to pass the scene. I drove around for fifteen minutes or so, wondering if I should drive to Harrington as I had planned. I was horrified and consumed by despair. I heard myself alternately sobbing and screaming, unable to get the picture of the dying deer out of my head. This is the way my trip to Harrington went. I made a side trip in Machias to try and connect with Ann, but she was working elsewhere today. I felt that if anyone could understand how I felt, it would be her..........that she wouldn't think I was foolish for feeling the way I did. All I could do was talk with her very briefly on the phone and go on my way. The sound of her voice calmed me, though, and I moved on. Because of the stop I missed half my appointment with Serita and left there disappointed as well. On the way home the same feelings boiled up and receded again and again.

What an ugly creature is the human being, hairless except in a few rediculous spots like the hairless mole, homely beyond belief with his flat face and tiny features. He is unfit for survival if not for his grandiose brain, which lets him believe he is superior to all other animals, which gives him the right to take away the life of any animal besides his own kind. The deer who died was so beautiful, and the person who killed it drove on as if he had swatted a mosquito...........
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from away said...

If it's the gas station I'm thinking of, that's a very deer-heavy spot. We've nearly hit them there a few times, too. Sad.

I know what you mean about the person driving off unconcerned... I felt that way when I visited WI last and my friend hit a deer while I was in the car. I was nearly sick at the thought that it was injured and suffering somewhere (it ran away after being hit), whereas mostly the people around me were concerned about the car. I suppose it's a privilege that I'm able to put aside worrying about the cost of fixing a car to worry about the deer instead.

We don't set out to kill things (most of us anyway). But these collisions emphasize - visually, at least for me - the strangeness of a car in a deer's space. If we choose to drive, though, then that's one of the consequences we have to expect. I know that doesn't make the situation any better; I'm just not sure what the alternative would be. But you're right: people should, if nothing else, react to it differently.

Emma said...

I don't believe we have to accept that it's going to happen. That corner is very dangerous for deer. There should be a sign, a low speed limit, or even a deer fence. We should not feel justified killing everything in our path just because we are inconvenienced.........

from away said...

I meant that as long as people are driving, we're driving in a space that once was open land and therefore crossed by various animals -- that it's unrealistic to think we can drive everywhere and never hit anything. It is awful, but it's also somewhat unavoidable. I don't like knowing that if I hit an animal with the car I'm probably going to kill it, but I can't never drive either.

Most of us try to minimize the damage we inflict with a car (following speed limits, driving defensively, etc.), whereas others speed up if they see a cat crossing the road. Some people hunt for food, others for trophies; it's a similar difference in mindsets, I think.

I agree that there should be more precautions, especially in that area around the gas station. But of course then there's the issue of the money needed for signs or a fence or enforcing a lower speed limit (which I think is justified, but not everyone would agree). And then there's the problem that even with those measures, at some point a deer is going to jump out and a driver won't be able to stop.