It’s the time of year in the Midwest when the population of corpses along side the roadways increases dramatically. Right now it’s raccoons. In a month and a half, it will be deer. People complain about hitting deer because it does damage to their vehicle. Few complain about hitting racoons, but to me they’re some of the saddest victims.
I don’t like raccoons who get into garbage or eat our cat food. But I admire their ability to adapt to other species in their habitat.
What bothers me about dead raccoons on the road is that, at least this time of year, they come in pairs. This morning I noticed two on the road near our house. They were a few feet apart, one smaller than the other, and my heart sank. There’s something horribly tragic about seeing a mother and baby wiped out like that because they were together, and who then spend their remaining time as corpses so completely separated.
When I was a kid, I was angry with my parents for just driving by the corpses of animals. “When I grow up,” I declared, “I’m going to stop and put them in the ditch or on the side of the road so people don’t keep running over them.” I remember my dad looking at me very seriously and asking, “Even if you’re on your way to work?” I thought it was a stupid question.
When I first had my driver’s license, I drove with a shovel in my trunk and I dutifully shoveled dead animals into ditches. Other drivers looked at me like I was crazy. I probably was and I realize now I’m lucky I wasn’t hit myself.
Now, middle-aged, I drive by, drive on, and just feel bad.
When I do I think, what if this were the planet of the apes and those were humans and I were an ape? Dirty animals, too stupid to stay out of the road. And I cross myself and hope God isn’t middle-aged without time to stop and care for us lower life forms.
Cause Karma serves a mean bitch slap, baby.