Tuesday, May 01, 2018

An Incident on the Road

A few weeks ago, on a dark and rainy Sunday evening, I was driving home along the old A30, I came upon a sight which has subsequently lingered in my memory.  Midway between Lopcombe Corner and Stockbridge the road twists around and steeply dips down to crossroads, before climbing, equally steeply, finally emerging into a long straight, before climbing again after the junction with the Middle Wallop road.  It was as I was beginning to accelerate into the long climb after the crossroads, that I saw something in the road - there was a prone deer which had clearly been struck by a preceding vehicle.  As I slowed to pass the dead deer, I saw that there was a second, very live, deer standing over body, as if standing guard over it, or perhaps even in mourning over its fallen comrade.  Something about the deer's apparent devotion to its friend moved me deeply.  For a moment I considered pulling the car over and putting the hazard warning lights on.  But to what end, I reasoned to myself.  What was I going to do, comfort a deer?  Try and persuade it that its vigil was pointless and that it needed to move itself off of the carriage way and away from danger?

I know that I was probably guilty of anthropomorphising and attributing human emotions and thought processes to an animal.  I know that, in reality, the deer simply had no comprehension of what had happened to its friend, no concept of death and was simply expecting it to get up and carry on across the road.  Yet there was something in its look, in its stance, that seemed to say something different.  It just struck an emotional chord in me - at that moment I so desperately wanted to do something, anything, to help it.  As I said, that tableau has haunted me ever since.  It has left me with an enduring sense of deep sadness.  Perhaps I'm getting soft in my old age.  Maybe my emotional response to the incident is linked to the dramatic reduction in my blood pressure - certainly, I've been feeling more like a human being since I've been taking medication for the hypertension.  Whatever the reason, the memory of that deer standing guard over its fallen friend lingers in my memory.



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