Text and images © 2006 John B. Blackford. Do not reproduce without express written permission. All rights reserved.
One More is Gone...

Following the towpath along the Delaware River at dusk, I absent-mindedly noted a dark stump ahead, one I didn't recall. Suddenly, in a white blur and stucatto clatter of leaves, a shadowy deer raced down the canal (currently empty of water).

My dog, Cassie, was a bit slow on the uptake and simply blinked into the darkness, trying to figure out what just happened.

That was it. We kept walking slowly along the river, with Cassie doing lots of sniffing and staring. Occasionally, I'd look to the high bank on our right, wondering where the deer might race up and cross the road above, if it hadn't already. Eventually, we approached a sharp bend in the river/path/road, where lights of the first house in half a mile shone.

There was a stunning crash--the sound of breaking glass, tearing, crunching metal, and screeching brakes. No less than four cars fish-tailed to a halt. After a pause of less than 15 seconds, the cars picked their way around something in the road, to the sound of more crushing metal and glass.

At first I had no idea what happened, considering the possibly of a crash with a car backing out of the driveway ahead. But if so, the cars would not have gone on...

Finally, I realized we'd paced the deer, until it decided to slip across the road and into the woods beyond, unsuccessfully. For ten minutes or more, cars would screech to a halt, then creep around the deer I couldn't quite see at the top of the bank. Eventually, a truck with a camper attachment stopped. The owner got out slowly, stopping traffic in both directions, and dragged the deer out of the road.

I felt bad, because I'd driven the deer into the traffic and death. But really, it's just another small moment in the continuing clash between wildlife and civilization. We win each battle, but the world grows lonelier...

River Log .......... Raub's Island Map

Moon rising over the Delaware River, seen from the towpath..
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In the fall, hunters push the deer into a hyper state. They'll often race across roads or otherwise indicate they're running scared.
The towpath leaked after the floods, until the canal was dry, giving deer a wider space to roam at night..
Updated 11/08/06