(By Marta Weller, December 4, 2009)
The next nighttime driving image that fills my mind as I drive along this dark country road on my lonely way home is more fleeting but yet just as eerie.
I remember driving home along another, smaller country road.
A back road much nearer to my home.
It was fall - another fall -
when the deer are moving more erratically, more skittishly
because the human hunters are on the prowl -
day and night they harass the deer.
Daytimes the deer are hunted with bow and arrow,
later in the season, with rifles -
but at night the deer spotters prowl,
shining lights into hedgerows and fields
causing the hunted, skittish creatures to become bands of frightened, potentially dangerous zombies.
The night was very black because the moon was in its last quarter. I had just turned onto a small back-country road, a shortcut to the highway that was only a few miles from my home. It was a road lined on my left with open fields and on my right with a few houses in a wooded area. The road went down a small hill. I could barely see the point in the road ahead where I knew the houses and trees along my right would end and a field would begin.
As I strained my eyes to see the road beyond the lit tunnel of my headlights, my eyes caught some kind of movement off to the side - just beyond the range of my headlights.
Suddenly the movement spilled across the road in front of me.
My headlights picked up a couple of fast moving deer
shooting from right to left across the road.
I was far enough away to slow down to a crawl.
As I crept through the black night towards the little access road
that led into the field on my right,
I kept peering into the spot from which the two deer had emerged.
As I stared, the blackness seemed to be moving -
|(imagine this in the black, black night)|
When I realized what I was seeing,
My eyes had focused on a herd of deer,
maybe even fifteen,
milling just outside of the trees
along the access road into the field.
Maybe it was the slow approach of my car,
or that I had stopped and my headlights unnerved them -
maybe they just decided to bolt all at once,
but suddenly all the deer glided across the road in front of me.
My headlights gleamed on ghostly deer, a solid stream of them.
It was completely silent.
A river of deer flowing across the road.
The twin beams of light shown on their backs and hindquarters
as they moved in an eerie silent rippling motion
over the road and down the embankment into the opposite field,
disappearing once more into the inky black night.
Just a flash of an image that was seared on my brain.
Another nighttime deer encounter I will never forget.
To be continued