Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Sad ... and spooky

Ordinarily I run Tuesday and Thursday mornings before work. It's a quiet time, usually dark, and far removed from the corporate world where I spend my days. I like feeling as if I'm in shape, and there's something magical and not a little frightning about the world before the sun comes up: frost and dark trees and a dim blue sky.

This morning I was out, puffing down the road under a windy blue sky, soft with dawn after a night of rain and tornado warnings. There was a sharp moon crescent low on the horizon with Venus (let's say) hanging just above.

I was thinking my usual running thoughts -- should I have worn the blue fleece shirt? why have my toes been hurting for the past week? is this the house with the scary dog? move OVER you idiot driver -- when I spotted a small animal in the middle of the road.

It was cat-sized, but not cat-shaped, and it was walking in wandering circles. Most animals either run or are dead. Lot of road kills out here in the country.

Its shape appeared out of the dimness and I realized it wasn't a cat or a skunk or a squirrel, it was some sort of long, low, arch-backed weasel. Most animals scurry off the road when they hear something strange, so I clapped my hands and shouted at it. No change. Still it wandered down the middle of the road, turned back, sniffed the ground, resumed course, drifted off to the side.

I took a slow wide circuit, hoping to scare if off the road so it wouldn't get hit by a car -- or attack me -- when I took a closer look at its head.

It had no eyes.

Its face was intact except for dark blood and what might have been white bone where its eyes should have been.

"HEY!" I shouted. "Get off the road!" I had stopped running and was standing there, damp and panting. Still it wandered, nose to the ground, and I realized it must have already been hit by a car, just barely hit enough to crush its eyes and wreck its hearing and probably concuss it into a groping instinctive bumbling thing, unaware of everything about it.

Nothing I could do, save finding a stick and shoveling it off the road, but the poor thing probably would have panicked. So I went on down the road and didn't see it on my way back home ten minutes later.

I wondered how long it would bumble around in the world before getting hit by another car. Ten minutes? An hour? What was it doing, wandering around like that?

Maybe it was looking for its eyes.

Godspeed, little thing. I hope your pain is ended.

1 comment:

P said...

Extra, extra spooky. And sad. Luckily here there isn't much in the way of roadkill. Though within a span of four days a few weeks ago a dog and cat managed to get hit in front of our house. The dog ran off and was retrieved and carried by a yelling owner to the car and onto the vet. The cat didn't fare as well and the animal removal people had to be called.

Cars are unforgiving but it is their nature. But what about the people that drive them? The woman who hit the dog stopped for a moment, saw the terrified owners running up the street after their wounded family member, then drove on. I saw this. At least the guy who hit the cat came to our door to see if we were the owners. I thanked him for asking.