This has been an interesting year for road encounters. I travel a winding and hilly road daily down into the valley, into the village. Significant improvements were made about six years ago that banked the curves such that the forty mile per hour speed limit could be stretched by fifteen or twenty under good conditions and especially when some fool behind thought he had more power. On the flip side, lagging behind some timid soul who braked for every curve and dip was payback.
The most road caution required, though, is not other motor vehicles, but for the majority users, the road hogs.
Bicycles. My little two lane county road to work and back every day runs primarily through a heavily wooded area of the national park. Once I thought the most obnoxious road hogs were the spandexed, two wheeling variety who defy traffic laws in general and rules of the road in particular. But their orange and lime green assault on the eyes notwithstanding, and their ability to detain a train of cars as a pair ignores the bicycle lane and labors two abreast uphill pales. I’ve encountered worse road hogs this summer.
Deer. Of course. I've rounded many a bend and encountered the generation of deer entitled to cross the road without looking. Honestly, caution seems bred out this year as groups, probably teenagers, stroll casually across two lanes.
Squirrels. I brake for animals. Deer of course, can put me and my car out of commission, so, certainly, stop. But where did the super abundance of squirrels come from? There is no dodging a squirrel; that’s only playing straight into their suicidal bent. (Or, is that lemmings? No matter.) I deserve a commendation for saving countless squirrel lives this summer by stopping my vehicle, waiting for a squirrel to make up its mind. Do you know squirrels run hesitantly forward and back until they make eye contact with the human, then they run like the wind, one way or the other off the road. The trick is to make eye contact with the squirrel in front before being rear ended by an enthusiastic driver behind.
Birds. Specifically, European Starlings. Most of us have looked up in awe at a murmuration of birds, dancing in waves across the sky. Not long ago I turned onto Truxell Road and stopped dead for a troupe of European Starlings, practicing, across a hundred square feet of golf course rough and two lanes of road. I could not drive through. Eventually I put the car in park and cut the engine and waited. Cars on the cross road stopped and some folks got out with cameras. I didn't. Up close and personal I found them as obnoxious as the colorful birds on bicycles.