Sunday, November 21, 2010

wrong place, wrong time...

I see it everyday. Every single day as I drive to work I see it. Sitting there in the middle of the Shoreway, just inches from the center lane white lines it lays. Each day getting a little smaller. A little flatter. A little less noticeable as to what it might have been originally. But it’s there. I see it. I wonder if anyone else sees it? Does anyone else know what it is?

And it makes me sad.

My drive to work takes me through a really pretty area of Cleveland. Being a port city for Lake Erie, our forefathers were thinking accessibility. Not profitability. The coastline near downtown isn’t full of high-rises like Chicago. Nor hotels like California. Or casinos like Atlantic City. It’s a port town. And there’s a port.

The city itself is on the lake, but separated from it with a freeway. The Shoreway runs from the Westside, where I live, all the way down the lakefront. Curving with the lakes shore it winds past the large beach and park, multiple yacht clubs, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Browns football stadium and the Great Lakes Science Center.

It’s a beautiful drive actually. It’s uplifting to watch the waves and how the light plays on them as I drive. Except for my seeing this item that lies in the road. Two weeks now its been there and probably will remain there until a snow plow this winter sweeps it away.

My ‘To-Do’ list was staring me in the face. Having woken up in the middle of the night I grabbed a pen and pad of paper and wrote down all the things that I’d like to get accomplished once I woke up. For real. I had lists of things running in my head. I was slightly anxious about starting my new job and wanted to make sure all the household ducks were lined up before dropping Bear off at school. I suppose my anxiety is what was keeping me up. I figured if I at least wrote it down it might empty my head for a bit. At least an hour or two, that’s all I was asking for…another two hours of sleep.

Which worked. But the first thing my eyes focused on upon opening was “the list“.

I sat up and looked it over. Miss Queen of Procrastination residing on my left shoulder was already mentally marking things off. “That can wait. That can wait, too. Even that. Don’t even start that task…please.”

I usually try to tune the Queen out. I rest better when my list gets attended to. But looking out the window at the sun streaming in, I thought she might be right. At least for today.

“Boo Bear…time to get up doll.” I said quietly upon creeping into my daughters room. Boo sleeps like a log. She tumbles in her sleep and ties herself up in her blankets. Four Ugly Dolls were looking at me from under the blankets and another was tucked under her arm. “Bear?”

The blankets were pulled up high and I could see her feet and the top of her head…but nothing else. “Boo?”

“Huuuhhhhhhhhhhh?” came a soft reply. “Do I have to go to school today?”

“Um. No darlin’…it’s Sunday. Do you want to rake leaves or do something fun?”

“Sunday!” she bounced straight up in bed. “Cool! Let’s go to the science center and see the Imax.”

The Great Lakes Science Center is just a few miles from our home. We’re members and go quite regularly, but hadn’t been in awhile. The usually have three different Imax movies running and I love the feeling of being IN the screen.

“Great idea! Let me see what movies are playing.”

But when pulling up the web sight it notified me although the center is fully open, the Browns were playing today. They let fans use the parking garage on home games. The stadium is located right next door. Parking would be a hassle, the center probably packed…yeah, that idea was no looking so stellar right now.

“How about the art museum? I haven’t been since they reopened.”

So the art museum it was. She invited a friend and we commenced on our adventure.

The best way to get there is taking the Shoreway. It’s quite curvy at points following the inlet of the Cuyahoga River. Today as we made our second turn just past the beach, there was a police cruiser parked on the right side of the road, flashers going. The officer was standing in front of his car. I looked in my rear view mirror and there was another police car coming up fast. I pulled over to the far left and checked my speed.

I hate rubberneckers. You know the type. They slow down when they see emergency vehicles or an accident to crane their neck to see what’s up. It’s human nature I suppose, to look at accidents. It’s sometimes gruesome. Sometimes not. But always it messes up the traffic pattern for no real reason.

Today I was that rubbernecker. I looked over as I passed by and there in the road was a young buck. He was down with his legs tucked under him, head upright and proud but obviously hurt and in shock. The officer stood with his arms down by his sides just looking at the buck about three feet from it. It seemed surreal.

I wondered how did it get here? Where did it come from? There isn’t a park or woods any where close by. How did he get in the highway? What if he tries to get up? Someone must have hit him coming around that turn. Someone rushing down to tailgait for the Browns game. They obviously didn't even stop. I wonder if they knew they hit it at all? They were probably already tailgaiting and couldn't risk stopping for fear of a DUI slapped on them. All these thoughts running in my head as I drove by watching the scene as if in slow motion.

I even saw the bucks eyes.

Shock. Definitely in shock. There was blood all down his left side. The legs were at an unnatural angle.

“Mom, why are you going so slow?” The girls were singing along at top volume watching some music video on my phone in the backseat oblivious to what was going on beside the road.

“There’s a buck. In the road.” I was now twenty or thirty feet beyond the accident sight. I could see them in my mirror but I had picked up speed. It was then that I saw it. A large chuck of flesh in the center lane of the highway. Whatever car or truck that had hit the buck the flesh dropped off their bumper as they drove on.

Right there. In the road. I started to weep.

Everything inside of me that needed to cry itself out came out right then. That piece of flesh in the road was the trigger. I couldn't help it. I couldn't stop. I just...cried.

I cried for the buck.
I cried for me.

I thought they’ll have to send someone to put him down. That proud beast. Poor thing. My mind rushed back to when I was 16 and hit a rabbit scurrying across the road. I had looked in the rear view mirror then and saw it spinning in the road. I remember going home and the sinking feeling that I had killed this little bunny. My mom made me some hot chocolate and sang to me to calm me down.

I felt the same way looking at this buck in my rear view mirror now. But there wasn’t anything that I could do about it…so I drove on.

We had a great time at the art museum. There were some special exhibits going on with people dressed in medieval costumes and teaching us to dance. We got to try on armor and helmets from that period. We made our own helmets of craft paper and feathers and engaged in sword play. It was a fine day.

I forgot about the buck.
I didn’t even look for him when driving back home.

But I remember him now each and every morning.
As I drive to work and that chunk of fur and flesh is still in the road.

I’d like to stop and get it out of the road so I won’t have to look at it each time. But running across a busy highway to remove this part left behind of the buck wounded on the Shoreway would probably end up with my own flesh being torn off and deposited another twenty or thirty feet beyond.

But there it is. Right on the line in the second lane.

Living in Cleveland where we get hit with lots of snow fall, I never thought I would pray for an early snow. But I am now. Chances are it will remain there until that dreaded fluffy stuff does fall. Then and only then will my drive be weep free.

Because with the snow brings the plows. And then the plows will get it.
That poor piece of buck left in the roadway.

How many people drive over it each and every day and don’t even know what it is. Oblivious to that poor bucks peril two Sundays ago.

But I do. I saw it.
I saw him.

Poor thing.
He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And now all that's left is the sad reminder left on the Shoreway....


  1. Ohhhh. I have such a hard time when an animal that has not, cannot, adjust to our taking over their territory is hurt or killed just trying to live the life it was meant to live. We displace and they suffer. Not fair and probably unavoidable.

  2. I remember my parents pulling over for a deer in the road when I was eight or so. It was stopped in our headlights. There was a truck behind us and the driver got out and shot the deer. My parents were furious. It wasn't even a fair fight.


  3. wonderfully shared.

    i've been there--- too many times

  4. I was born a person who cried at seeing dead or injured animals in the road. Broke up with a guy whose father swerved TO hit a stray cat on a country road and my boyfriend didn't understand why I was shocked and would cry in the backseat over a barn cat. Maybe there's a difference between city girls and country girls?

    The plow will push that piece of him off the roadway, but you will remember how majestic he was.

  5. That's so sad. Poor guy-he had no clue what was coming at him.

    We saw a dog hit once. A black dog, dead, right where people turn. It's tongue was out, eyes closed. It could have been asleep, but it had been hit in the middle, and it's, well, it's intestines were all over the road. We drove past it three times before a policeman picked it up, leaving a streak of blood on the road.

    I don't think I'll ever forget that.

  6. A deer was hit about 1/2 a mile down the road from our home a couple weeks ago. Splattered is probably a better word. I saw the blood all over the road and tried my hardest not to follow the trail, but my eyes did and I almost vomited right then and there. I see dead deer quite often our here in the country where I live and it makes me sad, but nothing like that.

    Some trucker probably stopped at the car wash down the way to spray off all the blood from his vehicle. He was probably annoyed at that fact and not at all concerned for the poor animal.

  7. That has become a recurring problem here. Deer are everywhere. I picked up breakfast this morn and as I got in my car I could see 3 deer grazing 100 ft away.

    Sorry you had to experience that.

  8. Oh Nancy I'm glad you shared this! You are not the only one that is sensitive to such things and I am glad to know I'm not alone as well.

    Living in central Iowa I have seen many deer meet their end on busy highways. Several years ago a fawn ran into the side of our car as the ex was driving us to our favorite state park. Even though it has been many years I still get teary as I drive past that same spot.

    Good luck with the new job!

  9. I remember driving somewhere once with 'Boyshoes'... there was this HUGE turtle trying to cross the highway... and people seem to take great delight in hitting them. 'Boyshoes' and I stopped, picked the turtle up and moved it well off the roadway... I hope it kept moving in the right direction.

    I'm a Southern guy, that for some reason, just didn't get involved in hunting. I have too soft of a heart for that.


  10. That's a big animal to be on that stretch of freeway. I've never seen anything on that road bigger than a woodchuck, and that was farther out west than you.

    Poor deer. Hopefully he didn't suffer long. That's all you can ask, really, is to hope that suffering ends quickly.

  11. I can feel you Nancy; thinks like that also make me vulnerable. Great post as usual!
    ps - I LOVE the picture of Boo an the Ugly Dolls - they are my favorite pillow-dolls (I admit having one in my adult-marital bed) and gave some to my nieces as well. And the picture? a perfect representation of the beauty hidden below the sometimes ugliness of life.

  12. Oh, it's very hard to share the pain of an animal, isn't it? I always feel so helpless whenever I see a wild animal hurt (which luckily isn't often, but enough to know what you mean). In Texas, it's the law not to clear dead animals from the road, since they are food for the vultures. It does work out, though not pleasant to see. We do have a lot of turkey vultures around here -- they are quite beautiful flying in the sky, but scary to look at up close.

  13. Wow, I hate it that this animal was killed but I love reading your account of it. You have a gift you know. Excellent post, thank you.

  14. You write with such intensity - I was one with the buck and then with you as he transferred his soul into yours.

    An animal in pain is a horrible thing to see. Nature is cruel that way though - even if this particular animal's pain was caused by a careless driver.

  15. Oh, I'm so sorry. I lose it at the sight of injured and maimed animals at the side of the road. It's just so sad and unfair. Sometimes I think WE are the ones in the wrong place at the wrong time. The animals are just following instinctual paths to food and water and other life necessities while we are the ones just following a fastest path to the mall to buy stuff we don't need. - G

  16. Oh, that's so sad. Animals feel pain and fright. If only things like this didn't happen. I think all animals go straight to heaven when they die. Hopefully, there's a special place up there for this guy.

  17. We see a lot of badgers on the roadside. That sight always makes me particularly sad, as I'm so fond of them.

  18. What a sad story. I'm sorry that it happened, that you saw it on what should have been a happy day with your daughter, and that you have to see that depressing reminder every time you drive by. I hope the police officers put him down quickly.

    On our road trip with the kids from IL to NC, I saw three car accidents, one as it happened, counted 11 dead deer on the highway, 3 dead dogs, one dead coyote and an mind numbing number of dead raccoon, rabbits and unidentifiable roadkills. It was so gruesome and yet I couldn't not look or keep tally. I must be programmed to bear witness. It made me sad to see how awful the odds are for the critters. For those of us who look and notice, it is incomprehensible that there are people who just don't care or don't stop or don't drive more carefully. Although at 70 mph, I was grateful nothing ran out in front of me.
    Hope you get that early snow. :)

  19. Nancy, you can tell a story with such depth. I hope it snows soon for you and that it washes it away and eases your soul.

  20. It's always sad when you see roadkill. To think that a dog or other animal might have belonged to a young child who loved it dearly. Hitting a deer is pretty serious.

    I never have been fond of killing animals. I know hunting and things of that sort are supposed to be the "manly" thing to do, but I never have been a fan. I know perfectly well that the meat we eat has to come from somewhere; I just don't want to be the one to do the killing.

  21. I have seen many deer hit on the roadways in this part of the world, but they have all been dead and so out of their mysery. My own brother was traumatized for years by the fact that he hit a pregnant doe late one night. I am sorry that your daily reminder is still there and that you weep over it. Very moving story, Nancy. May the snow come soon xo

  22. Thoughtful and moving prose.

    There is something that aches within when there is injury to an innocent person or animal.
    We get on with our busyness of everyday lives, but inside, we don't forget.


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