Hoof prints in the foreground and cat prints in the background on my porch.
January of 2011.
A year ago, Thanksgiving night of 2010, while driving back home to my house I nearly hit a deer on with my car.
I was invited to a Thanksgiving dinner by an acquaintance by the name of Erika. She and I have had wonderful conversations together, and I liked her tremendously. I was delighted that she had asked me and I gotta say, it felt a little bit like a date. But sadly, this time of year can be hard for me. I suffer from clinical depression (and I’ve been open about it on this blog) and the short days have an impact on my mood. I was on my way to the party, but I wasn’t feeling so great. I actually drove past the house, and it just wasn’t in me to go it, so I drove back to the main street and headed home.
It was on the main highway just as I was picking up speed after leaving the downtown area that the deer darted out from some cottonwoods and appeared in my headlights. The road was icy and the deer skittered and fell in front of my car. I swerved and for a moment everything was in slow motion, it was close but the frightened animal was fine.
I have lived in this town for over 17 years and I’ve never seen deer at this spot in the road. But, I have seen owls in that exact spot three different times.
About a month and a half later I went to the nearby town of Jackson to see the remake of TRUE GRIT with Erika. This time it was actually a real-deal date. This would have been early January 2011 sometime.
As we drove home after the movie, while we were still in the town of Jackson, Erika suddenly shouts, “Deer!” and before I could react there was a sickening thud, and I watched as a small deer bounced off the passenger side of the hood, and spun into the lane to our left. From what I saw in the headlight, it was then hit by a truck next to us.
At that moment we were in traffic on slick roads, there was really nothing I could do but continue driving. I had a jolt of adrenaline, and we tried to make sense of what just happened. I was probably going about 30 miles per hour, and so was the truck next to us. So, there was a chance that the deer would live. This is a notorious stretch of road, and deer are hit by cars often.
During the drive home, Erika and I both talked about how sad it made us thinking that we might have killed that animal. One thing I wanted to share with Erika during our time in the car was a series of stories involving me seeing badgers (I may write about that someday), and how they seemed to be directly related to her. These curious stories feel mysterious in a way that I was worried that in telling them I might sound nutty. I chose not to share those stories after hitting that deer.
Two days later I saw small deer tracks on the porch outside my kitchen door. I am not sure when they appeared but there was fresh snow so I can only guess it happened about 48 hours after hitting the deer in Jackson Hole.
Once again, I have lived in this house for over 17 years and I have NEVER once seen a deer (or deer tracks) anywhere near the house, let alone within 18 inches of my kitchen door.
In less than two months I almost hit a deer, I most likely kill a deer and a deer walks on my porch. Two of these events involved Erika, and I’m happy to report we have been close and happy since last winter. It has been perfectly magical.
This story may mean nothing but I've made a sort of declaration to myself that I document these curious events in this public format.
Deer tracks about 18 inches from my door.