A scene I saw

A scene I saw

The included picture of a deer is not the scene I saw today.

What I saw today, was the polar opposite of the picture.

While both constitute a close encounter, the nature of each had a different vibe.

Today at 11:00 PM I was driving, on one of my father’s endless and continued attempts to move from the old to the new house and as we exited my neighborhood I saw one of the most compelling scenes I ever have seen in my life. Just a quarter mile from my house, on a turn out of my neighborhood that I have taken more than a million times, I was carelessly turning, tuned out and letting my mind list away as it attempted to recover from another double shift at Kanki. Then directly in front of me I hear a thunk thunk and see the body of a deer sliding at least ten feet down the road. The deer was hit by a motorcycle which continued driving after the incident, leaving the deer stranded in the middle of the road unable to walk. I sat in my car for 30 seconds watching this deer try to move, to run away as I have seen them do countless times before. However the motorcycle must have injured its hind legs, and instead of running away, the deer helplessly flailed on the road with none of the coordination that I am accustomed to watching deer possess. Regretfully after seeing this spectacle happen in slow motion, I followed my turn signal and continued on driving to my new house. I left that deer in the street to writhe in its pain as I continued down the street as if nothing had happened. What was I to do? To shoot it seemed like the only humane thing to do but being the non-gun owner I am, I just wrote it up as another fucked up thing that happens in the city.

As a city dweller for the entirety of my life I had never really seen a deer up close until my time on the Appalachian Trail. Every time I saw a deer it gave me a newfound appreciation for a creature whose interactions with me until that point were limited to dashing in a quick brown streak out of the way of my car. However, hiking the Appalachian Trail gets one into close proximity with the docile creatures on a daily basis. Especially in more remote parts, a hiker can get extremely close to deer which I feel is not as much an interaction between a Human and Deer, but rather two animals just sharing the same space.

In not-hiker world, there is an adversarial nature to nature. Especially in a city like Raleigh, NC which is constantly growing at the cost of its wildlife. Instead of living with nature it becomes a roadblock which although people for the most part want to preserve, becomes second fiddle to development. I realize it is a necessary evil, but it is one evil which is not present on trail. On the trail one can live with nature, and becomes part of the ecosystem.

What hit me hardest about the incident wasn’t the fact that the deer would die but the way it happened. Animals need to die for the food system to work, but that deer going down as a roadkill statistic seems like such a waste. On the Appalachian Trail one of the most surreal things I saw was at a nature preserve in New Jersey.

There was a drought and the summer days had all been extremely hot causing a lake to dry up. What was a large lake had almost entirely dried up to the point where all the fish were swimming on top of each other. As a fish person my entire life, upon seeing this I was saddened, until I saw the second part of the equation. In this same area were more vultures and other assorted birds than I have ever seen in my life. This drought had become a feeding frenzy for them as getting a new fish was as easy as walking to the side and dragging a fish out. Sure I was sad to see it happen but everything has got to eat and that’s how nature was making the most of the scenario. Nothing was wasted, these birds had assembled to eat every fish in a systematic order until either there were no more or there was enough water again that the fish could hide.

If I saw a deer in this same condition when I was hiking the trail it would still evoke the same emotional response. I would be sad to see such a gentle and beautiful creature in such pain, but I would know it would help the next animal sustain. It would help the ecosystem to sustain.

In just a few days I will start my PCT hike and I am looking forward to once again living with the ecosystem and not against it

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