Zen Deer vs. Honda Civic
November 15, 2011, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It was a weekend of adventure around here.  Friday night I went to the American Shakespeare Center to see The Importance of Being Ernest (which was great!) and on the way home from Staunton at approximately 10:30pm on Interstate 64, I hit a deer.  It was horrible, yet serene.

The deer, a four or five point buck, was simply standing in the middle of the highway, stopped apparently as it was crossing the road by -you know what’s coming- by the headlights of my car.  Other cars were close enough behind me in all lanes that all I could do was swerve slightly to the left to avoid as much impact with the front of my car as possible.  It was all so oddly calm.  I knew there was not much I could do at 75 miles an hour without causing a major accident.  I realized pretty quickly that I would just have to hit the deer and hope for the best.  I knew there was a chance that I could be killed or seriously injured, my car totaled and others in cars behind me hurt as well, yet I felt relaxed.  What would happen would happen and I would just have to go with it.

The deer must have felt the same way.  It was completely still.  No indication of fear whatsoever, as if it was asking to be killed.  It just stared right at my oncoming car nary a twitch of the ear.

The passenger side headlight part of the car made impact with the deer’s chest and front legs.  I didn’t see any of it, it happened so fast.  From my observation in the rear view mirror all I could see was a flurry of white deer chest fur and some headlights swerving in the night.  A lack of screeching noises from behind led me to believe that the cars behind me managed to escape serious impact or injury as well.

It was too dangerous to stop and really what could I do?  I thought about those fine thin legs and how they must have shattered like kindling when the car hit them.  I hoped the deer had died instantly and that everyone behind me had truly avoided harm to themselves or their cars. I was grateful to be moving along in a functioning vehicle as if nothing had happened, the only indication of the incident being the sick sounds of bits of deer or plastic car parts clunking on the pavement as the wind from the automobile’s movement flaked them off.  Grateful to be unharmed.  Puzzled by the total zen trance of the deer all the way to the end.

I said a prayer for the deer, apologizing for taking it’s life.

I thought about my friend Jackson and how he would know how to butcher that carcass on the spot for some fresh venison.  He would have stopped.  He would have been prepared.

Someone told me that it if you hit a deer in Virginia it is illegal to stop and take it but anyone behind you may have it with impunity.  I don’t know if that is true or not. It is a shame to be so wasteful.

I could only see the broken headlamp and crunched fender under the dark blanket of night.  The next morning provided a clearer assessment.  Damage to the hood, fender, side panel, passenger door, scratches on the roof from antlers, a bit of fur embedded in the wreckage, a single spot of blood splattered on the windshield like a bindi.

“The car might be totaled,” said my friend who had come to pick me up for a Saturday road trip.  Oh well.  I need a new car anyway for my new lifestyle though the Honda has served me well.

The bindi blood drop refuses to be cleaned off with wiper fluid and regular windshield wiper action.  Each time I notice it I feel a little sad.

My daughter, after hearing the tale, said that she hopes that when she dies she is calm like that deer, zen if you will.  Me too- for both of us.  Staring into the light, unafraid.





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