She appeared in the left hand lane, young and beautiful like so many deer I have passed safely. I didn’t try to swerve; there really is nowhere to swerve to on these narrow roads. I did have time to slow down, just not enough time. She cleared the left bumper, but then the thud. I felt the impact through the entire car. Driving to the next turnout, I glanced once in the rearview mirror. I was the little cloud of dust rise from the ditch where I am sure she fell. I could only hope she died quickly.
In 1971 my then boyfriend, John, and I drove a visiting meditation master from Olympia to Seattle. We weren’t very good meditators, but we had a car and were making the trip anyway. The car was a 1947 Dodge sedan with suicide doors and a hippie paint job. We had a mattress strapped to the roof, something we were divesting ourselves of, before we moved into a tipi.
Our passenger was waiting for us to pick him up at the side of the road. His robes were dark red, he was small, his English complete but heavily accented. He took his place in the vehicle without mentioning its uniqueness. John drove and I chattered. Somewhere between Tumwater and Fort Lewis, I asked him about deer. Why are deer the only creatures that are ok to eat? It was something I had heard on the periphery of meditation. He patiently tried to explain the nature of deer and how ingesting that nature could not hurt you. I don’t remember the whole doctrine nor did I really understand it at the time. It was something about deer being gentle and good. What I do remember is his being quick to add that no matter the uniqueness of deer and their inability to hurt us by eating them, of course we would never do it.
Forty-five years later, I have killed a deer and not eaten it. In some twist of thinking, I felt bad about not eating it, about not giving the death some kind of meaning.