I once bought a house in the middle of nowhere
. I had a nine acre plot with a few trees near the back and nothing but farm field
s all around. The nearest neighbor was a five-minute walk; the next was fifteen minutes. The land was flat, prime Ohio farmland
, full of soybeans and corn and winter wheat. I would marvel at the sky, the bend in the horizon, the wide-open spaces.
Usually it was very quiet, though we did live under amateur airspace. This meant that I couldn’t really wander about my own land in the nude, or even weed my extensive gardens with out the occasional low flying airplane, meandering in ceaseless circles, so close I could sometimes see the expression of the pilot.
Our house butted up against the neighboring field. When the crop dusters swooped they were twenty feet from my kitchen window. I called the Agricultural Department once because I was pregnant and freaked out by the thought of chemicals drifting in the breeze. I asked what they were spraying and was told not to worry my “pretty little head”.
Another trade off for our out-of-the-way paradise was a very long commute to a cube farm that I loathed, but was now tethered to so we could afford the American dream. I drove over bridges that were badly in need of repair. The roads were patched with tar on one side, but there were huge potholes on the other. The places that had the tar looked drunkenly laid, as though as though it had been patch test run for the newbie road crew.
During deer season it was not uncommon for strangers with guns to knock on my door and ask to hunt on my land. We would find them waiting in our driveway; “The former owners let us.” They would plead, but we always said no. It was the season to watch for men with guns and deer bolting from men with guns. One had to be very careful on those windy back country roads with blind corners.
Once I was driving home from my hour-long commute when the car in front of me swerved and then a chunk of something bloody hit my windshield. I screamed and it rolled off. There was an explosion of dark, matted fur in the road. I was still fifteen minutes from home, white knuckled the whole way, in my rinky little Hyundai Excel, fully aware that if I had hit that thing in that shitty little car I might not have made it home again.
I pulled in the drive and my husband was there, already looking ashen and freaked out. I went in to the house and got into some comfortable clothes and he came in. There were two steaming mugs on the counter, I thought at first one was for me, but someone had just left.
Jay proceeded to explain that he had just arrived home when he heard a loud crash. He ran outside to see what happened and found that there was a car in our ditch and a deer on the side of the road. A girl had been driving home from work and it jumped out at her. The girl was unhurt, but freaked out about her car and never once looked at the deer. He did. It had the most amazing brown eyes, huge and full of pain. It writhed around, moaning into the night.
Jay invited the girl in to make a police report and call her insurance agent. He offered her some herbal tea, even made it for her, but she would not drink it. Jay said something about the unfortunate deer, and she said, “Who cares about the damn deer! What about my car!”
When the sheriff arrived he asked Jay if we owned a gun. We did not. He seemed to think that was very strange, a bad move for us. There was that deer, moaning in the ditch. The sheriff seemed reluctant to use his gun, since then he would have to clean it. Along came a “neighbor” who stopped his truck to shoot the shit with the sheriff. They knew each other. The two of them talked in a drawl, meandering around the edge of the suffering animal. Talking about the season, the car, and then finally the rifle the neighbor happened to have, fully loaded, resting on the passenger seat. The sheriff told him it was a good thing and asked him to shoot the animal, about a half an hour into a painful last lesson in the ways of man.
Finally the poor creature was dead, it’s large beautiful head lobbed sideways, big eyes open and empty, muscled but slack. They wanted to know if we wanted the deer.
“For what?” Jay asked.
“Eatin” The other two men said at once. They hoisted the body up onto the truck where it landed with a dull thud. A good ‘ol boy had wrassled him up some dinner.
A tow truck pulled the car out of the ditch and the woman knew him and got a ride, probably glad to be away from my too sensitive husband with his teary eyes and herbal tea.
A few minutes later I pulled in and asked him, “Is there a chunk of something bloody on my car?” He had given me such a look.
When they had all gone we sat in semi-darkness, stomachs in a deep quease, kind of hanging onto each other, glad to have feelings, even though sometimes it really hurts.