Day 23, 741: The Animals Who Haunt Me.

There are a few animals who have stayed with me throughout my life regardless of the very little time I knew them. Five to be exact. Ironically, they are not my past pets.  I remember all past pets, but they don’t haunt me. I largely have fond memories of each and feel they had the best lives they could have had under my stewardship. I have a few regrets about some, but not many. No, the spirit animals who haunt me are the ones with no names who tragically crossed paths with me at one time or another.

The first was a white cat who crossed the road on a dark and stormy night. I was already on a bad enough date and we were returning home from a rock concert in center city Paterson, NJ. The date didn’t see the cat in the middle of the road and drove right over him. He had green/yellow eyes and was brilliantly white from head to toe.  The driver wouldn’t stop or go back. He felt the animal was surely dead and there was no reason.

The second was a large Goose with her brood behind her. She had crossed Paramus Road in Paramus, NJ and some car had hit likely the runt of the litter – the one that took up the rear of the family trek. By the time I got there the Mother Goose was literally screaming at her baby to get up, just get up.  The babe couldn’t move. It was alive, but its legs were badly damaged. The mother was beside herself and wouldn’t leave the scene while the rest of her brood looked on. IF, you ever debated if mother animals have feelings that are above base animal caring instincts, this was the proof.

Two years ago, I was speeding down the Garden State Parkway when a beautiful yellow turtle came to the side of the road. The GSP is a beautiful, tree-line highway in South Jersey. It’s normally a delight to ride, but for about three weeks each year it’s a terrifying experience as female turtles come up out of the waters to lay their eggs.  It’s a death trap with zero chances of any slow moving turtle to make it across the road unscathed with cars whizzing by at 70+ miles per hour. I have spent many times stopping the car to try to rescue turtles, but it’s always too late on the GSP. This turtle, I swear, had a smile on its face as it craned its neck to feel the wind. I willed it to turn around, and by the time I was coming to a stop, the turtle was too far back to trek back. I never knew what transpired, and never saw carnage the next day, so I still pray it moved back toward the inland pond waters.

Last month, we were coming home from Philly when a magnificent wild turkey was standing on the second lane of four lanes. Luckily, we were in lane three when we spotted her. There was no way this turkey, not moving, was going to survive.  It did start to take off, but big turkeys are slow, and my husband couldn’t stop looking in the rearview mirror to watch it get clipped to some degree when it finally took a low flying start to be air borne.

Happily, today I observed an entire duckling family make it across the GSP toward the ocean.  It was a close call but the car to my right slowed and swerved, and swerved farther to the left as well. The family made it, and hopefully will never look or go back.

These creatures had no names, although perhaps the white cat did. They stay with me. I can’t forget them.  I remember the moments, their faces, and my terror for their survival. Someday, I hope to get turtle barriers on the GSP. Meanwhile, I stop for turtles on slower roads at every opportunity and have, at least a few times, gotten some safely on their way. Too often I see the carnage around me and it makes spring not the lovely season of hope it has been previously.

When you see a sign for turtle crossings, it’s no joke. Slow down. Brake for wild animals. Swerve safely when at all possible, and pay it forward by rescuing as many strays and turtles stopped by curbs as you can. They are all wonderful creatures. If there’s a heaven, they are the souls I hope to meet someday.

###

Daily Focus on Gun Sanity:  If you can, find the companies who support common sense gun regulations and support them. Here’s one — The Cash App (known as square cash on non-mobile devices). It’s a new app for paying people money, similar to Venmo and more mobile than PayPal.  I’m not yet comfortable with debit card digital pay systems, but if you sign up for The Cash App and use the code /PodSave (a code for a popular political podcast named Pod Save America), you immediately get a free $5 put in your account and $5 is donated to MomsDemandAction.org. If you go this route, let us know as it may help convince the more traditional among us to also give it a try.