What kind of driver are you

Accidents happen. We have all had those moments, where the unexpected catches us unawares. It usually happens when our attention to the moment wavers just a bit. A slight wobble followed by surprise. We have all experienced drivers careening along the highway in a great hurry. Passing when the yellow lines are solid, or roaring past you and two other cars driving safely along the beautiful highway.

Perhaps, we ourselves have been a bit guilty of that behavior, hopefully though, without mishap. The innocent victims are usually unsuspecting wildlife going about their lives. We, the seekers of commodity, not so much community, have bisected and dissected and made a maze out of what once was a natural setting. Our road designs are almost always inconsiderate of wildlife trying to follow the paths which are traditional. In our earlier days, we too followed these same trails. But heavy vehicles moving at high speeds are not suited to a dirt path often passing under low hanging branches.

A few mornings back, as I was coming down our windy, most beautiful highway connecting Kingston to Hillsboro, I was stunned by the fall glory of the Cottonwoods lining Percha Creek. I rounded a corner and entered a straight stretch of road and there lying in the middle of the road was a victim. Now I know at times, a ground squirrel seemingly bent on suicide may dart out from the roadside grasses leaving you no time to react other than exclaiming damn! I have had jackrabbits at night charge my lights and hit the car even with me almost at a standstill. But, we are usually aware of those moments of hitting wildlife.

Here is where an outstanding community member feels remorse for what just happened. In this case, it was a hit and run. They left one of the most beautiful foxes I have ever seen lying dead in the road for others to swerve around or to blatantly thump thump, without any respect for the life now departed. They were perhaps a coward, not able to face the death they just caused. Regardless, they should have taken responsibility for what had just happened.

We have a current crisis where many do not even respect themselves let alone other humans and other lifeforms. Joy, wonder and marvel do not linger long with those who care only for themselves. Why would the driver of that vehicle just continue on their way without at least stopping to make sure the wildlife was dead and to then remove it from the roadway. I witnessed a racoon once who had been hit and then its mate was on the road by it. She was then hit by another vehicle in front of me. They also drove on leaving carnage on the roadway for others to deal with. To think that humans are the only animals with feelings, is about as egotistical, self-promoting and anthropocentric as one can be.

If you happen upon wildlife dead on the road, please, think about that animal, the life it was just living and what it left behind. Respectfully pull it off the road so nothing else is killed because of it. Was it out hunting for a hungry family back in the den? Who will feed them now? Please, show respect for each other and all forms of life. It is a good deed.

Let us be more observant as we drive. Pay attention to the roadway. Lizards and snakes, which both have tremendously important roles in the land’s ecology, often bask on the warm pavement. They are small and often harder to see but they are important cogs in life’s web as well as the other life forced to traverse our deadly asphaltic ribbons. High stepping tarantulas take a bit of time to cross, and our beautiful Desert Box Turtles are slow to cross as well. Make those moments ones of observation and wonder, not of remorse.

Enjoy the beauty of the drive. Give yourself a buffer of a few more minutes to reach your destination and to be observant.

If the driver who killed the fox had only been paying a bit more attention to the road, very likely they would have been able to prevent what happened. Then, they would have had the special experience of seeing one of the most beautiful animals to be seen, racing across the roadway. Racing across and on its way to wherever it was bound, leaving the driver behind, flushed with a lasting moment of awe.

Let us be more respectful, observant and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us each day.

Please drive carefully and enjoy!

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Steve Morgan
Steve Morgan

Steve Morgan is a retired landscape architect who spent most of his 35 year career in Arizona and New Mexico. His current career is giving Chautauquas or Living History performances, as Aldo Leopold. He happily calls Kingston, New Mexico his home now, nestled in the Black Range Mountains only 3 miles from the Aldo Leopold Wilderness. His writings are strongly shaped by Aldo Leopold’s love of the wild lands, with respect and compassion for the land – the soils, waters, plants and animals. Steve’s compassion for nature is evident by his strong, driving desire to open people’s eyes to the marvel and joy of experiencing the natural world.

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One comment

  1. How sad for the fox. Thanks for writing this tho. People need to slow down and enjoy the beauty around them. Especially on that stretch of road.

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