Ziwa's fashion show
These days, Ziwa wears a blaze orange vest when we walk on the Whistlestop Trail. Des has only an orange collar, but he stays pretty close to me, and I'm wearing my orange hat and a blaze orange vest. It's hunting season, a time when people take precautions or stay out of the woods entirely.
Des should probably wear a vest, too, but he's always hated clothing. Some dogs think it's funny, some don't care one way or the other, but if you put a t-shirt on Des, he sits there like he's being punished. So I let him get by with just the collar, since he doesn't go running off into the woods anyway.
Hunting season is very much a part of this world. I'm impressed that I haven't seen any evidence of "slob hunters" around here, the city guys who come in and spend a week drinking, then shoot somebody's cow and go home.
People around here have an intimate relationship with the woods and there are various times when the woods provide food. They go out and get a deer in deer season the same as they go out and pick blueberries when it's time for that.
Here's an example of the intimacy of local people with the natural world around them:
I was talking to a woman the other day and somehow we began talking about the danger of moose on the highway. As I think I've said before, the problem with moose is that they are black and blend into the darkness at night. They also weigh about six or seven times what a deer weighs. You run into a 120-pound deer, as I nearly did on my way to work Friday, and you've ruined the front end of your car. But run into an 800-pound moose and you've done more than smash a headlight.
She was telling me how her husband was run into by a moose while he was on his motorcycle. No kidding. She and the kids were in the SUV trailing behind him when this moose came running out of the woods and just smacked right into him. At the last minute, he put his arms up, crossed across his face and into the moose's chest. It send him spinning down the road like a rag doll. He wasn't wearing a helmet (they're optional here) but he was basically all right except for bad road rash. And the pager he was wearing on his belt was ground down to nothing by the asphalt.
He was okay. He's a State Trooper and has been on the scene of enough accidents that he was able to check himself out. The moose, on the other hand, had a broken leg. She had a 9 mm pistol in the car, and handed it to a man so he could put the poor animal out of its misery. However, she told me, he took it "like this" (and she imitated holding the gun between thumb and forefinger) so she was pretty sure it wasn't going to happen. Despatching a moose with a little popgun like that would have been hard enough anyway. (She mimicked the gun behind the ear), but the passerby wasn't even up to that, and the poor animal wandered off into the woods, where he no doubt became food for coyotes.
And so the circle of life continues.
So I mentioned to her a local woman who had had a deer run into the side of her car, whereupon it died of a broken neck. The woman called 911 as required and then, when the Trooper arrived, had him help her load the thing into the trunk of her car, whereupon she took it home, butchered it and ate it.
And she laughed and told me of having had a deer run into the side of HER car. Then she went into a mini-rant about insurance companies -- how could it be YOUR fault if the deer came out of the woods and collided with the SIDE of your car?
But she had had to fix the car on her own, with no help from the insurance company, and with the threat of getting her rates raised because she had had an accident. "If the deer runs out in front of the car and I hit it, that's an accident," she agreed. "But when it runs into the side of my car? How am I supposed to avoid that? Smash my door? You're darned right I'm going to eat him!"
Unfortunately, she said, the deer got up, shook it off, and ran into the woods, sticking her with a body shop bill and no compensatory venison.
Oh, I didn't mention -- the woman who managed to take the offending deer home and eat it is the assistant superintendent of our school district, the woman whose husband was accosted by the moose is executive director of the local chamber of commerce.
I love this place. I really do.