In fact I seem to be stumbling upon death with uncomfortable frequency recently. On my little walks — I take walks frequently throughout the day as a way of finding balance in my being — I have been coming across piles of bones and things. Perhaps after discovering one or two, I have been focused more on looking down at the path than up in the trees and so seeing more of what has always been there anyway. I don’t know, but I do know that my walks have taken more time lately has I have had to stop and investigate a the remains of fur and bone.
Occasionally a frog or a bird, too.
I think I am seeing mostly raccoon or possum carcases. The bones are the right size. The fur dirty grey and brown. It is hard to tell and I don’t really want to pick at them. But I can’t help asking myself things like, why here? Why now? Why is this pile of dog-sized bones here just to the side of this trail?
Last week near the Carlos Avery Wildlife Area in Anoka County I found what must have been the broken skeleton of a very young deer at the base of a large red pine. I went to that pine, incidentally, to see if I could detect any remains of a dead eagle I found in that same spot a year ago. That tree is seeing at least a death a year at that pace. Some bad luck for the tree.
I have been taking pictures of some of these, but decided that they all look alike and I stopped after finding a young rabbit two weeks ago. The rabbit might have been a couple weeks old and was stretched out calmly on patch of washed-out asphalt near the river in Mendota. A picture seemed disrespectful even though the rabbit was the most intact specimen I had found. He looked clean and relaxed, but dead of course. I wished him well wherever he might be now eating lettuce and hopping about.
And sometimes you don’t get a chance to take pictures anyway. A couple days ago a yellow finch darted out a bit too confidently in front of my car and died with a soft tap my bumper. I can’t even begin to tell you how disappointing that feels. Such a silly accident, one that finches are prepared to understand.
I have even pulled people from lakes who didn’t make it…yes, true, I wasn’t on a sales call, but when you’re in sales you’re always on a call. (Remember that.)
So now, to balance things a little, I am going for a walk. I know a place where I can almost always count on seeing a deer or two. Mostly I see a doe and her lightly-speckled fawn. Seems late in the year for such a young fawn. I worry about these deer anyway. They don’t seem to have much common sense in a deer kind of way. The fawn is just a little too trusting and curious. I will feel quite sick if I find it dead along the trail one day. But I guess that’s the way it goes. No need to get philosophical about things as real as that.