June 6, 2017, it was chill enough to light a fire. Five days later, near record heat.
The world seemed to gather around to watch Comey testify Thursday in what the New York Times called an extraordinary hearing. Yes, I think though not NYT official style mind blowing would still be an understatement. Comey accused the president of lying; the next day Trump accused Comey of lying under oath. I know who I am more likely to believe. But people! This is not a schoolyard, not a reality show, this is about the biggest stage there is for human beings on the planet. And I think we have to pay attention to our viewing of and buying into and participating in the spectacle.
It feels a bit like it did heading into last summer, when the world seemed about to catch fire, and I kept burning myself in the kitchen in a possible sympathetic parallel. Also my life was pretty much on fire, so parallels all over the place.
My life still is burning up, and really I’d be ok to have some period of glowing embers, just for a few months, universe, if that can be arranged. Rolling into high season with crowdfunding management as a sidecar that just about equals the car itself, a doggone tall order.
And then, I hit a deer. On an understaffed beautiful late spring day with two markets and a festival, Rt. 22 north at Austerlitz, an hour after sunrise. Ten years in Princeton, where the deer are like squirrels, ten years up here, it had never happened; I knew it was just a matter of time. As much as I’d like to think it was my keen distance vision, still near 20/20, and those fine soccer player-trained, single mother-refined reflexes that helped me avoid, it was probably dumb luck. And it was just as it’s always been described to me: the deer is just there, you don’t see it coming, you don’t have time to swerve, barely to break. Looking it up online later, I read you are supposed to let up on the brake just before impact so as to try avoiding throwing the deer up on the windshield. If anyone reading has ever hit a deer and had time to let up on the brake in such a controlled manner, please write and let me know, you deserve a scientific study of your sang froid.
I am happy at least to say I was not going too fast– those who know I tend to the speedy side might be skeptical, but given what’s been going on with Ocean Blue I have been easing up a lot of late. I was doing something under 60 on a straightaway, lost in thought about some of the fires burning on the playing field of my life. I’d been thinking in part about another trip up 22, to Williamstown for a holiday market, in a huge snowstorm just before Thanksgiving, when trees and wires were down and I was in a very bad state. I’d been thinking about the thankfully opposite conditions– weather, if not my state of mind– from then to now. I was not phoning, or eating, or fishing through a bag. Perhaps a little too lost in thought to pay attention to the periphery of my vision, but really I don’t think so, the deer did seem to come out of nowhere from the right side, just before a low bridge, probably from shadows that camouflaged. I think she couldn’t stop her forward movement any more than I could swerve to avoid her– I know they say not to swerve, but really when it is such a large animal strike and there is no one else on the road I might be inclined– I’m sure I hit the brake, the car nose hit her, she came up on the windshield, then off the other side. The windshield shattered with the bullseye directly in front of me just above the hood.
I pulled over, unsure what to do. I was intact, just shaken. Of course, that is a dead cell zone of a good ten miles there. I got out and approached the deer, lying in the middle of the southbound lane as if resting, hoping against hope she’d been killed. She wasn’t breathing, her eye was open unblinking, so one blessing there. A truck and then a van pulled over; a man got out of the truck, asked if I was ok, pulled the deer off the road; I couldn’t take my eyes off her. The woman said she’d go back to her house to call the police, that I should have a report for insurance. Looking at what seemed full udders the man told me the deer had a little one, eyed me, said he hoped that didn’t upset me, then scanned the field where she must have been headed as if the baby might appear. Yes, that upset me quite a lot, as did the whole thing actually but I was pretty much in shock so as is my wont in moments of high stress I stood there talking as if hardly anything were wrong, which is a sign all its own of shock, and he asked me a few more times if I were ok. He noted the front end damage, which I only then brought into focus, noting that nothing was leaking, well that’s good.
The woman in the van returned and said they were on their way. She looked at the deer and said, oh, she’s pregnant, so which it was I will have to talk to a few more expert than I to try to figure out– not that it matters, except that it does to me, of course, and that she was pregnant and the little one weren’t out there waiting would be some small comfort. Though deer are good, it seems, about adopting the babies of others.
So off they drove, leaving me to wait for what seemed hours but was probably about 20 minutes for a trooper to appear. I got a call to go through to the person I was to meet in Lenox just long enough to alarm, then finally got a text through. It’s the worst, to be so dependent on these connective devices, but it sure does increase the stress of the situation when you know someone is waiting and you can’t get them word. I was on the verge of driving to the woman’s house, she’d given me the address, said her son was still there if I needed to use the phone, when the trooper drove up. I got the report, we had a circuitous exchange about whether it was safe for me to drive, which after a few minutes I realized it likely was and the trooper thought so but didn’t want to outright tell me so or advise me. When he pushed at the shattered area of the windshield to see if it held it was all I could do not to shout at him to stop, because really I needed to get on my way. He followed me up to where I cut over to Massachusetts and on I went. Only at the top of Lenox Mountain did I pull over and take my water bottle out to wash off the windshield.
I made it to Lenox, to the incredibly kind and gracious festival organizer who’d come out so early to meet me and receive product; I made it to the Great Barrington market very late and set up in a new spot just inside the entrance. One of the other vendors who’s normally my market neighbor came over to ask why I’d moved, and as I told her about the deer she just looked at me and said, if you want me to spell you just let me know. I’m a little in shock still, I said, and she said yes, I think so.
But it was calming to stand and be present and talk to people about les collines, though there were a few hairy moments of tears welling up and intense feeling. I did not have a sense of having escaped awful injury or worse, the feeling was all for the deer, and the trauma of not being able to avoid doing a terrible injuring, in this case killing, to see it unfold in front of you so quickly and be powerless. Maybe I should have turned around and gone home and collapsed, but I felt I really couldn’t, and pushed on.
It is something that will continue to process through me. I was grateful to get home, finally, ten hours after leaving and once again irrevocably changed from a drive on rt. 22. I am grateful to the angels who stopped there, to the hugs I received from Lenox through Great Barrington and on as I proceeded somehow through my day. I think because I have been feeling more alone these past months in a way that I just have never known before, the power of a sincere hug has come to mean so much.
The past year or so I’ve had a few close encounter with deer, but on my trail runs, not driving. I’ve chronicled them to a friend, trying throughout to discern the meaning or message. Deer in symbolic terms represent gentleness, love, intuition, innocence, inner child among others, and any time we’ve been up close– think, the scene from The Queen with Helen Mirren and the stag, but less distance, and I do not later kill any of my encounters– it has felt like they fully emanate pure love and gentleness and peace and a special kind of knowing.
A few years back I heard an interview on the radio with an author who’d written a book about birds, and during the time she was writing it, birds kept dropping into her life, literally, flying into her house, flying into windows, flying into her windshield. I remember thinking at the time, maybe it was a sign to stop writing that book!! But she certainly didn’t take it that way, and I realized after thinking about it off and on for a long time, and a few experiences of my own, that the birds’ message, sacrifice even though that sounds melodramatic, was possibly one of opening her awareness to them in completely new and otherwise inaccessible ways.
Up here hitting deer is sadly a part of life. Any hunter I know would likely have a good laugh at my messages and meaning. Yet they are there. The sweet mama or mama to be that leapt in front of me and Ocean Blue that morning was maybe just trying to get to good eating and/or her fawn on the other side. Or not. But though I so wish we hadn’t, we stopped her, and forever are linked.