I recently drove down the 15 mile Easton-Denton Road, the body count was a mere two. Three if you include the still alive runner. I said “Oh dear” when I saw the deer body on the west side next to the sunflower field. And then I hung my head realizing the irony of my exclamation. The fox’s contorted body was on the same side of the road. I got to revisit both bodies on my return drive home. In the 70’s, Rufus Wainwright’s Dad Loudon, had his one hit wonder with Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road. Road kill is just one of those things we make light of. Perhaps it’s an acceptable price for driving ourselves hither and yon.
When I first moved to rural America 12 years ago, I worked in Easton and commuted. I began to carry the phone numbers for the State Highway Office and both the Talbot and Caroline county roads offices. When I arrived at my destination, I could then call to report the bodies I’d seen. I’d have their locations memorized. But my calls were mostly about cats, dogs, or deer.
Do other people call to report the bodies? I wonder. I once saw a towel over the face of a dead German Sheppard on the side of Route 404, a major route to the beaches. Someone had taken the time to do this but when I called to report the body, the woman wasn’t sure if someone else had called. And it being a holiday weekend, no one was on duty for the cleanup (for three days) and the tourist traffic was a massive moving audience for this poor dead ex-pet.
There’s a definite nonchalance over the death of the lower species of mammals. When he’s driving, my husband will suddenly tell me to look “over there”, throwing his pointing arm across me and saving me from a gory road shoulder crime scene on the other side. He then quips, “possum”. Possums are somehow more expendable. But I respect his care taking me. I apologize for this but the worst sight I’ve ever seen was the body of a mother raccoon and several of her babies behind her. They’d been crossing the road apparently. That one shook me up really badly. Still does.
The human and animal worlds are incompatible in more ways than not. Cars are death machines and we’ve encroached on their environment and continue to do so without apology. It seems the very least we could do is make a few phone calls upon reaching our destinations to aid in the compassionate removal of their squished bodies from their grisly roadside death displays. And, like the Indians when they killed an animal, send a thankful prayer up for the life that was given.