Saturday, August 24, 2013

Vacation - the "before" stuff

I wrote this last week, so I'll just go ahead and post it and then write something more substantial as soon as I plow through the mountain of laundry that awaits me . . .

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I'm getting ready to leave for a vacation (yes, again) so I haven't had much time to write. I've been packing for three days. We're doing our annual cabin-by-the-lake trip. I am so fortunate to have a friend who lets us use his cabin every year. We've invited some friends to join us for a few days (the same friends we accompanied to Disney - yes, they are still speaking to us!). It will be cramped with eight people and two dogs in one small cabin but we're hopeful for nice weather that keeps everyone outside a lot.

I've checked out a couple of library books and am looking forward to lots of quiet time next week. Ha ha!  Who am I kidding?  I have an eight-year-old who hasn't stopped talking since she uttered her first words in 2006.

I did take a break from packing and took the kid to the county fair on Wednesday night. I ran into a friend from church whose daughters (one is 13 and the other is 14, I believe) were showing some animals with their 4-H club. Fortunately, the girls were willing to take my kid on the rides, thereby saving me from a lot of nausea. My friend took me on a tour of the animal barns while the kids were off scrambling their brains. She showed me their rabbits, horses, and goats. After every animal I asked her, "Are you going to eat that later?" She looked at me like I was nuts. Hey, I know about those post-fair auctions. I don't think the bidders are bidding on an opportunity to take those pigs on a sweet Caribbean cruise or something. My friend and I like to get into some occasional sparring about the pros and cons of being a carnivore.  It's like a sport for us.

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That's as far as I got before I left. I have to get the bad part of my vacation out of the way so that I can write about the better stuff that happened after that. The three of us left for our trip on Friday evening (August 16th). The van was packed to the gills, with the dogs fighting for about 12 square inches in the back.  We had a four-hour drive ahead of us and decided to split the driving roughly in half. P took the first shift, which is sort of uncharacteristic. Normally I drive first. Anyway, about a half-hour later we were heading down the road at a good clip, making good progress. The speed limit was 65. I was fiddling with my phone and talking to the kid, who was seated right behind me. Suddenly, I heard my husband say, "Hey, what's that in the road?" I could see three young raccoons attempting to cross the four-lane highway (two lanes going in each direction) from the right.

It was about 6:30 p.m. so it was still light outside. I can't remember what I said, but I felt an instant panic. I know from experience that many times, when an animal attempts to cross the road, it will at some point realize that the excursion was a bad idea and then double back on itself. We were in the right-hand lane. Sure enough, the raccoons thought better of their plan and doubled back. At the same time, P decided to veer right. "Nononononono!" I screamed in my head. And then I heard the sickening thud of the van's tire hitting and killing one of the animals. I was not sure if the other two made it back to safety or not. I was hoping so with a desperation that I cannot properly articulate to you now.

I sat for a moment and then began to cry. I know it seems silly, and I truly wish I was not so sensitive about these things. When I was six or seven, I overheard someone saying that I was "hyper sensitive." At the time I didn't know what that meant, of course. Now I just curse my tender-hearted self sometimes. I just kept thinking, "But it was a family! And now one of them is dead." All I could think about was crushed bones and that awful sound.

My husband did not kill the raccoon on purpose, of course. Intellectually, I know that. But, I couldn't help but feel he could have tried a little harder, that he could have pulled over to the shoulder and stopped before hitting the animal. I'm not sure. I cried for a while and consoled my daughter as best as I could. It was a sucky start to our trip, that was for certain. I didn't say anything for quite a while. I could tell that P felt terrible; he tried to take my hand but I just couldn't - not right then.

It took me a few days to stop thinking about the raccoon quite so much.

In happier news, when we got to the cabin I set out some bird seed. This little squirrel showed up and then proceeded to binge on sunflower seeds for the rest of the week. Seriously, we could walk right up to the little bugger and I'm sure he was thinking, "I should really run away but this buffet is insane!"



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