One life affects others. There is no escaping it. I commute by motorcycle sometimes and see roadkills often. Cars barrel through the countryside, little bubbles, music playing, heat on, following a bloom of light through the night. Skunk, deer, snake, fox, startle. Things happen.

I relocated this Gray Fox because I couldn’t stand the thought of it being ground flat by so many wheels. It seemed disrespectful not to put it in a nearby field and I did the same with the gopher it had been carrying. A gesture from the human side of an unfair fight… no contest.

On the motorcycle I’m agile, alert, cautious but quick, yet not removed from this dance. Two Song Sparrows twirl from the bushes to my left at speed and weaving to orchestrate a near miss I duck and twist and one sparrow goes up free and clear the other dips and taps my headlight with a barely perceptible pulse, and I stop, and I turn, and the pavement holds its burden low, and the wind tousles feathers, animating, filling me with hope, but the wind carries on, as it does, and the sparrow, once a taught bundle of nervousness and quick purpose, drained of its ebullient sharpness and pitch, lay light and loose in my hand.

A bird, a deer, a rat, ant, spider, the countless insects gathering in pointillistic arrays on our windshields… We move, they move, things happen. The key is to notice, to acknowledge, to respect, to care. Tucked into all the trouble in the world I know this may seem of little consequence, but it’s all relative isn’t it? A matter of degree but it does matter.

29 responses

  1. Thank You for your compassion. Really Beautiful and Inspiring. I will do the same. Thank You

    June 13, 2012 at 4:43 am

  2. Yes, it does matter. Thank you for the post.

    June 13, 2012 at 5:01 am

  3. Indeed it does matter. Every “little” thing.

    June 13, 2012 at 5:17 am

  4. Thank you for caring so much. It all matters.

    June 13, 2012 at 5:30 am

  5. Of course it matters. Thank you.

    June 13, 2012 at 5:44 am

  6. overtlysimple

    We all impact one another.

    June 13, 2012 at 5:58 am

  7. Every single loving moment matters — thank you so much for your display and words. We do the same, when we encounter such a sad encounter. To notice, to acknowledge, to respect, to care is what we’re all here for, after all — living together. Thanks again.

    June 13, 2012 at 6:03 am

  8. Kendra

    Thank you for a very thoughtful post.

    June 13, 2012 at 6:58 am

  9. “To care.” That’s the important part. Thank you for a beautiful post. Z

    June 13, 2012 at 7:07 am

  10. Billy

    Thanks Walter; it does matter, it all rolls into one.

    June 13, 2012 at 8:25 am

  11. Indeed, it does matter. I am so sad when I see our furry and feathery friends on or at the side of the road. I try to stop to relocate them too, when it is safe to do so. Before I get in the car, I pray that I will not injure one of God’s creatures. Thanks for sharing.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:04 am

  12. So glad you moved the fox and gopher. I saw a squirrel yesterday when whizzing past, and wish I’d stopped to move it with the same respect.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:09 am

  13. Relocating them also makes it safer for the natural clean-up crews that come to scavenge later on.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:11 am

    • Yes! Another way it helps. Thanks John.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:32 am

  14. I think this is my favorite post of yours ever! I too ride a motorcycle and once a swallow did the same thing your sparrow did. Heartbreaking…I also remove roadkill animals out of respect and for the safety of scavengers. Glad to know that others have this awareness, as so many people think I’m weird 🙂 Beautiful and compassionate post Walter, thank you!
    Give wildlife a brake!

    June 13, 2012 at 9:44 am

  15. Frank Cox

    Yes – and your sharing these apparently small consequences will, like small taps on a thousand headlights, remind us how connected we are to all that is alive, and to one another. Thank you!

    June 13, 2012 at 10:14 am

  16. this is sad, this is sooo unncesessary… but still: unable to avoid ;-(

    June 13, 2012 at 11:44 am

  17. JJ , Sat. II

    ride safely.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm

  18. What a beautiful and respectful gesture. I had never thought about this until your post here. I need some gloves for my car now… Thank you for the compassion you teach us all!

    June 13, 2012 at 6:15 pm

  19. I agree with all of the other commenters … poignant thoughts and post. Another important outcome of moving the animals is preventing secondary roadkill. Wherever possible, I do this for the sake of respect, as you say, and also out of care for those carrion eaters who will come after to forage the dead animal in the middle of the road.

    June 14, 2012 at 12:14 am

  20. Angora

    You are so right John, Thankfully in South Africa there is not such a great amount of traffic but even so one constantly sees this. So Sad but then I send them a prayer and know that there is also a place in some energy space for their loving souls.

    June 14, 2012 at 3:09 am

  21. Nicely expressed. Mitakuye oyasin. (For all my relations.)

    June 14, 2012 at 7:41 am

  22. Serena

    Thank you so much for this piece. After I read Barry Lopez’ “Apologia”, I started removing roadkill wherever it was safe. I recommend his essay to everyone.

    June 14, 2012 at 1:08 pm

  23. Fully agree – life should be appreciated in all its forms.

    June 15, 2012 at 12:11 am

  24. When I hit a bird in my car, my body stops for a moment, hoping. Fortunately, it has been years since I hit one.

    June 15, 2012 at 12:34 pm

  25. there is a novel in you

    June 18, 2012 at 10:58 am

  26. It does matter, thanks for sharing this thoughtful and thought provoking post

    June 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm

  27. Be careful on that motorcycle. A man was killed near here when a deer came out of a deep ditch and got him.

    June 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm

  28. that was a very pretty fox and bird. so sad. I feel sorry for animals but i understand that society it built around needing transporation for both human and animal and goods and food. still sad tho.


    July 20, 2012 at 12:55 pm

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