I know the sound of it now. First a loud thump!, almost more of a vibration than a sound, then the screech of tires. The deer have a tail that crosses Route 22 just south of the farm. And it’s the first week of Hunting Season, when it seems to me the deer are always on the move. Luckily the times someone has hit a deer in front of our house the only injuries have been to the deer. And, again luckily, each time they’ve died instantly.
I grew up in the suburbs and never ran over an animal till I moved upstate. The first time I killed a chipmunk I was devastated. But driving around upstate is like living on a farm when it comes to animals dying. It happens so often, I’ve learned to accept it.
The first time I hit a deer, it rolled over my windshield and ran off into the woods. There was no damage to the car or me, but I called the police wanting them to look out for the deer, so they could shoot it, if it was injured and suffering. They all but laughed at me, but also tried to be kind and reassure me that if the deer ran off it was probably fine. I had no sense at the time that how often this kind of thing happens whether by cars or hunters.
So this morning when I heard the thump and screech I went out to look for the car and make sure no one was hurt. The dead deer was in the ditch across the from the house and the people were already on the phone to the police. I have some bones on the alter in my studio from a deer who was hit last year by the farm. And sometimes, when I look out my window I see deer grazing in the pasture across the street. Sometimes, Frieda even still barks at them. As I walked back to my studio I said a silent blessing for the deer, wishing it a gentle passage. Maybe the coyote will come for it tonight, or the crows in the morning.