Monday, November 19, 2007
where the deer and the antelope play
[self-portrait with scrunchy, our 14-year-old pug, 2006]
My first word was not the anticipated "mama" or "dada." So the story goes, my mom was wheeling me down the pet care aisle in a grocery store, I pointed to a bag of dog food and subsequently announced, "daaaaw-gie" ("doggie").
I've always been an animal-lover, so much so that I'm pretty sure I was an animal in a past life--probably a dog. Violence or cruelty towards our furry (or not-so-furry) friends has always had a huge effect on me. The first time I saw Bambi, I was traumatized for life after the hunter shot and killed his dad. Same with Dumbo (when the circus takes his mom) and The Lion King (when Simba watches his dad fall to his death among a stampede). All these poor baby animals losing their parents, 2 out of 3 due to idiotic human beings.
[i just found this t-shirt design (by: Chalermphol Harnchakkham) on threadless.com after originally publishing this post. how beautifully appropriate.]
These haunting animated scenes were manifested in real life when I was home one summer from college. I was driving my friend Abbi home, who lived in the neighboring subdivision. While we were turning left onto Algonquin Road, the main 4-lane road connecting our two neighborhoods, my headlights shone on what looked like a bloody massacre. "What the..." I had barely expressed my thought, when large pieces of deer carcass scattered about the road and the median came into view. There was a large piece in my way and I came close to hyperventilating. I thought if I aimed the car correctly so that the remains went in between the wheels, we'd be fine. But I underestimated how close we were to the pavement and the sounds of bones crushing was enough to almost make me throw up on the spot. It was like straight out of a horror film. I knew I wasn't the one who originally caused the wreckage, but I still felt so guilty for even witnessing the result and couldn't even begin to imagine what the driver (assuming this was caused by a car/truck) had felt like...although maybe he/she never even knew what happened?
[i love this picture, taken by one of my parents. i probably thought the bear and i were telepathically connected.]
Recently I went to coffee with someone, and somehow Africa came up in conversation...
boy: Africa's pretty much at the bottom of my list of places to go.
me: Really? That's at the top of my list. I would LOVE to go there.
boy: Why would you ever want to go there?
me: Well partly because I'm a huge animal-lover and I think it'd be incredible to see those particular animals in their natural habitats.
boy: I may be skating on thin ice here, but would you shoot the animals?
me: Shoot them?? Are you kidding me??
boy: Yeah--you know--like the people who hang the heads on their walls.
me: Um, NO. I would not shoot them!
boy: Well if I went on a safari, that's what I would do.
me: That's not even what a safari is!
boy: Well what would you do, just look at them??
me: YES! That's the point of a safari!
boy: Well I'm just saying, Ernest Hemingway did it...
(in my head: Yeah, well he also shot himself, so...)
[my first trip to the zoo? screw the camera, i want the giraffe!]
Tonight I was driving back to the city from Amy's parent's house and as I was about to merge onto I90E from the Roselle on-ramp, Amy pointed at something off to the right side of the road. Suddenly a large deer began bounding across the four lanes. "Woah!" I exclaimed and held my breath as the animal approached the daunting concrete median. Flashes of the bloody, mangled deer flashed through my mind, but with a majestic leap, she sailed right over the roadblock. What a magical moment! "I can't believe she made it!" I sighed with relief. "That was incredible. I have never seen a deer on the highway. Where the heck did it even come from?" "BMW dealership," Amy pointed out, jokingly. "Poor thing has nowhere to go," I added, sadly, knowing that just beyond the trees she was headed for the giant monstrosity that is Medieval Times. But I was glad that she timed her journey advantageously and silently wished her safe travels.
When I arrived home I dug up a poem I wrote the summer after graduating high school:
A new outlet mall
had its Grand Opening
They named it
The entrance sign had a sketch
of two deer leaping
All around there was
that used to be
Deer leap loose
And people complain
about the overpopulation
But it wasn’t so overpopulated
when the animals had a home
And then they bother with
the needless sign
sort of as a consolation gift
for the Deer to look at
and feel special
Right before they jump
Into headlights on
a bone sketch