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Monday, January 17, 2011

road kill

I drive more than 10,000 miles a year. Most of my driving is done in town, to work, to the grocery store, to my daughter's school, and to all kinds of extra-curricular activities. In the mornings, as I drive on highway 1 to work, the sun rises on the passenger's side, the ocean stretches on my left. It's a short drive I cherish every single time because the view is spectacular. Every morning the sunrise entertains me with different shapes of clouds and shades of blue and orange and yellow, the ocean tide performs a different dance of white caps above deep blues and grays and silver all the way to the horizon, and the skyline of the distant mountains shimmers in the morning haze.

And then I see the road kill.

Sometimes it's a squirrel, sometimes a raccoon. Here and there I see a skunk, a seagull, a snake or a lizard. Dogs and cats are rather rare on highways, but they don't escape the fate of their undomesticated peers. Death by a moving car is an equal opportunity provider. Wrong place, wrong time, unlucky move. Bang. Done and over with.

I hate to see these mutilated leftovers on the side of the road. Sometimes lying in the middle of the road. Especially in the morning hours. So many times I see something splashed beyond recognition on the asphalt. Was it a squirrel, a cat, a raccoon? I can't tell. Too many cars have already driven over it, it became a part of the pavement. Almost.

Many times I call animal control and ask them to come and pick up the dead, especially if the road kill lies in the middle of the road. That way even the vultures and the coyotes can't get to them, and the cars keep passing by as if these creatures had not walked the earth just a short while ago. I have the phone number of the animal control people on my automatic dial. I think it is the least I can do for these creatures. Give them some respect. It's not their fault we need to get places too fast to lean on the brakes when they manifest themselves in front of us, totally oblivious to the fact that a car is rushing full-speed toward them.

This evening as I was driving toward Monterey on highway 1, I saw on the side of the road a car lying on its roof in the grass. Just like that. As if someone had picked it up and turned it over. A police patrol car was parked next to it. A tow truck was parked on the other side. It was getting dark and the fog was very thick, hiding the damage done to that car. There were no emergency vehicles on the side of the road and the traffic was moving smoothly, so I assumed the accident had happened quite a while ago. I don't know what happened to the people who were in that car and I don't really want to think about it.

I only hope they did not become road kill like the skunk I spotted earlier when I was driving out of town.

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