There are certain rites of passages when you live in the country. Like your first really big, scary spider bite, and the first time you see a loose cow wandering down the street. Yesterday, I had the true country experience, after about nine years of being out here: I hit a deer.
Even worse? I hit a baby deer. A bambi. I know, I know. It was HORRIBLE. I was driving along, ten in the am, and I saw a bunch of deer ahead in the road. So I followed protocol: slowed to a stop as they ran across, then waited another few seconds to make sure no one was lollygagging, then looked both ways, checking the side brush to make double sure. Then, and only then, did I start driving again. I got up to about thirty before this little one shot out from the left and ran right into my fender.
It was just so, so awful. A big bang, and then I pulled over, shaking, and looked to the side of the road, where it was just laying there, lifeless. I got out of my car to try and get closer, but a dog in a nearby yard started barking loudly and shot right towards me, so I got back in the car and just sat there, trying to calm down. Eventually I drove a little ways down the road, where I had a cell phone signal, and called 911. They told me to go back and wait for an officer so I could file a report for my insurance company. (My car was not that damaged: one quarter panel loose and dented, another dent on the door that keeps it from opening all the way.) So I turned around and went back, still trying to breathe, and as I came over this little ridge I saw…the deer, now sitting up, ears perked, looking from side to side. In other words, not dead, even though minutes earlier I would have sworn it was. Even crazier? Over the next twenty-five minutes or so, as I waited for the state trooper to turn up, it not only managed to get to its feet (totally wobbly at first, it was hard to watch) but slowly walk across the street, where it stood in the shade, looking kind of dazed. I mean, I’d seen this deer go flying through the air: this was a freaking miracle. By the time I’d filed the report, it had disappeared into a nearby field, where the trooper said its mother was probably waiting for it.
The whole thing was just so surreal. Maybe because I’m hugely pregnant, and crazy anyway, or because it was the hottest day of the year so far, which makes everything feel strange. But seeing that deer, after being hit, slowly come back to life…wow. It just gave me pause, let me just say. At the time, I was so distracted by everything that I didn’t really think about how lucky I was, on so many levels. Only later, when someone said, “I mean, what if you’d been going faster? Or it was a bigger deer? Or you’d ran off the road, or the airbag deployed, and the baby….” Oh, I can’t even think about it. I didn’t think about it, at the time, I guess because something kicks in to keep you calm even when you have every reason not to be. Suffice to say, I am feeling very grateful this morning as I get ready to go get an insurance estimate for my car. It could have been much, much worse.
Oh, and if you live in the Chapel Hill area and see a new model Acura going REALLY slowly today, at least you’ll know why.