Thursday, July 9, 2009

We Killed All the Buffalo to Make Room for Roadkill

I haven't been on a road trip since my late twenties and am currently very tired and almost in the west coast, in Utah. I'd forgotten what death machines cars are. As we make our way out west, the old man and I talked about how the plains were plains and buffalo used to roam them. (There was even a cute cardboard buffalo on top of a rolling hill near the Wyoming border.) But the buffalo had to be killed in order to make room for the railroad. I have been completely horrified by all the roadkill I'm seeing. I can't help but look, no one can help that, and the worst is making eye contact with a face that has guts hanging out of its mouth or is contorted with pain. Most of the dead raccoons look as though they are sleeping, as though curling up on the side of the road were the same as a real warm shoulder or family. Raccoons are weirdly private, you know, in the way they look like burglars, and I image that they turn over in their last moments. What can we all do, really. The speed limit it 75, so most of us are going 80 or so and there's no way to slow down if a little critter suddenly crosses your path.

I saw a huge deer with huge antlers, dead, practically wrapped around a mile marker. I saw a porcupine (a porcupine!) with its nose on its paws, quills flapping in the wind. I think about what it would be like to be hit by a car, to be really hit by a car. I think about this all the time in the city while riding my bike, but I usually think about what I would say to the person who hit me. (Why weren't you watching where you were going; where did you get those shoes.) What it would be like to die alone on the road, bleeding to death and broken. I saw a coyote splayed on the ground, completely flattened. That our roadsides are sprinkled with dead creatures says the worst about us. I don't know what the alternative is to, uh, roads, but it's real damn shitty that an innocent animal would pay the consequence for it, something like an armadillo that was made with protective armor, a live panoply, but apparently not enough to protect it from us. Don't get me started on the thousands of dead bugs all over the windshield, side mirrors, and front of the car.

1 comment:

Dan Magers said...

On our way up to Iowa my mother hit a raccoon and now her car is getting repaired. It was pretty grim for everyone involved. There is a lot of roadkill. In KC, in front of Bannister Mall along I-435, there are these silhouette buffalo. I actually kinda hate them.