Monday morning as I drove along La Tuna Canyon Boulevard on my way to drop off Tommy at Starcrest Kennels I hit a deer. He suddenly appeared, seemingly out of thin air, like a ghost, though his massive body hurling against the right side of my car was certainly of the corporeal world. Stunned, I pulled over to the shoulder to survey the damage and get my bearings: The windshield was all in one piece. The only problem I could see was the side-view mirror smashed up against the passenger window.
With trepidation I looked behind me to see what had become of the deer, but then caught a glimpse of him loping up the hill to my left across the road. There were two of them, each with a young set of antlers. I wasn’t sure which one I had hit. They both seemed to be fine, although I couldn't be sure. I didn’t stay long as Tommy, tethered in the back seat, went berserk at the sight of them. I continued onto Starcrest.
Just last week I’d seen five deer running up the same hillside. It was a beautiful sight but I worried then about their fate traveling along such a busy street. In the three years I’ve been taking Tommy to Starcrest, I’d never seen a deer. My theory is that the devastation from the Station Fire that burned thousands of square miles of the Angeles National Forest forced the deer down to these hills, the Verdugo Mountains, to search for food.
I felt shaken up all that day, awakened to how unpredictable life is: you step out the door and go about your daily mundane business and a deer flies out of the sky and smashes into your car.
But I know I was lucky. It could have been much worse. He could’ve slammed into my windshield. I could have been impaled by a rack of antlers.
These are humbling thoughts. I’m grateful I wasn’t hurt. I’m also really, really sad. Animals don’t stand a chance having to share the planet with us. It’s heartbreaking.
Whenever I contemplate the problems that weigh heavy on my heart, my impulse is to go into fix-it mode. What can I do to prevent deer from running onto a road and getting whacked by a 2-ton barrel of steel? The answer is, of course, absolutely nothing.
A few days after I found the Hahamongna Chihuahua, I had dinner with a friend in the Franklin Hills area of Los Feliz. As I drove down St. George Blvd, which runs along Marshall High School, I saw a dog up ahead in the middle of the road. Not again! I spewed out a string of profanity. It was late. I was exhausted and had to work the next morning. Did I really want to stop and try to catch another stray dog? As I reached the intersection, I saw that the dog, who had run up Griffith Park Blvd and now stood motionless in the middle of the street, was in fact a coyote. He looked frightened and confused. I kept driving. My brain kicked into problem-solving gear as I considered how I could help him: maybe I should go back and try to shoo him toward the park or into someone’s yard away from traffic.
Then I thought, really? You think there’s something you can do to help this lost coyote?
And the young buck and others like him?
Some believe the decision to hold off on stopping the Station Fire within the first 24 hours was motivated by the desire to save money. I don't know the truth, but I hope it's not that.
The past year has been filled with depressing news of environmental catastrophes: the Gulf oil devastation, the orange sludge poisoning communities in Hungary killing everything in its wake. Last night The Story featured Echoes of Kentucky, about a town where, ten years after coal sludge poured into their community, they still can’t drink the water.
On a positive note, a lot of people are working hard to change the destructive path we’re following. Today is Blog Action Day, and the 2010 theme is water. It’s the kind of thing that gives me hope: thousands of people around the world writing about a critical issue, millions of readers participating in the discussion.
Here are a couple of participating blogs as well as a charity that provides water to children in Africa:
Pasadena Daily Photo
Drop in the Bucket
"The good Earth—we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy."
— Kurt Vonnegut, from A Man Without a Country
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. "
— Dr. Seuss, from The Lorax