Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Food for Thought

I arrived at my Greenville office this cold, foggy morning, to be greeted by a trio of deer on the front lawn beneath an old apple tree. The office is on Crescent Street, the only state highway through town and usually quite busy. My van and camera interrupted the deer's repast and they dodged cars and trucks to get back to the Wolf Creek bottomlands across the highway. This stirred my memory of reading several years ago that the annual road kill of deer in California exceeds the number bagged by hunters. I don't know if that's an annual truism, but apparently it was true around the time I read it. The number was in the hundreds of thousands. Here I stood, having startled the deer, hoping I would not witness a road kill. Then my mind raced to a little book I have at home that is both sad and hilarious, "Flattened Fauna." It's a kind of mock/serious field guide to animals one might find flattened in the road. The text for each such animal is accompanied by a black, silhouette of such an animal as it might look when flattened by a vehicle. Kind of reminded me of scenes from Roadrunner cartoons, also both sad and hilarious. I've never seen a fox chase a roadrunner, but I have often seen roadrunners chasing lizards, and I always felt sorry for the lizard. Oh, well, something's got to be the top carnivore, and in "civilized" places, i guess it's us. This little incident also reminded me of times I've encountered deer in the wilderness while accompanied by students. Some of them, usually boys, reflexively raised their arms in mock rifle shooting position and made a kapow sound, while others, usually girls, held out a hand as if it were holding a morsel of food that the deer might consider approaching. These students probably imagined petting the deer, even though the result of an approach might be a couple of front hooves planted in their chest. I guess the proximity of this morning scene to a busy highway has caused me to think too much. If I had encountered the deer in the woods, I probably would have enjoyed the sight, taken a few pictures if I could, and not thought much, if any, about the fact that most of my species are carnivores.

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