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The Diablo Gets It's Due: Dead Mallard

So I'm riding my son to his preschool this morning traveling down our normal route. Just before the intersection of Diablo and Novato Blvd (Northbound) in the left lane is the freshly strewn remains of a mallard duck. The vivid green/blue plumage of the neck and head contrasted rather starkly against the red and white of bone, flesh and entrails. It was pretty in an abstract kind of way, but it made me sad: Someone killed this little canard. Then I began to puzzle: ducks can fly: what happened that this guy didn't get out of the way? Did he decide to chill in the middle of the street during the night when there was little traffic? Did he not hear the car/truck?

Then I got to thinking further: why is is that we lament the loss of that that is beautiful over that of the mundane? Much of it seems to be in the eye of the beholder. My heart fell when I saw this ducky roadkill: most of the drivers were driving over it like it was a lump of dirt. Part of me wanted to scream at everyone of them "Hey assholes, don't you see the beautiful thing that died in front of your wheels?" Part of me wanted to stop traffic and carefully pull the remains off and bury them. Without a police car or ambulance running interference, this would have been a risky endeavor and I (and my son) might have ended up like the duck. So I rode on, hoping that the duck didn't leave behind a family of little ducks and a mate.

I got to thinking further: Bicyclists don't kill animals with their bikes right? Well, I know there have been some close calls: Kent Peterson and several other who've ridden the Great Divide Race have had some pretty close calls. One of the Fatcyclist's friends (I think it might be Kenny) almost hit a deer. So who would have won/lost these collisions (if there can ever be said to be a winner and loser when a collision happens) if they'd actually happened? Neither is the likely answer. The fact that these "near misses" were just "near misses" might have something to do with the fact that the vehicles being piloted were bicycles. It could be that the riders were particularly adroit. If could be that average bicycle speeds are usually slower than cars (except in urban areas where they are often the same or higher). Just as I was thinking about all this, I turned into Miwok Park for my usual shortcut. I had to slam on the brakes and swerve b/c there was a clueless squirrel who started to dart in front of my tires. He had to have heard me coming, but the squirrels in that park have seen and heard it all so I don't think he took particular note of me. Either way, I almost had to eat my own words. I don't find squirrels particularly BEAUTIFUL, but they are pretty cute. It would have been a shame to crush the little guy.

Stay alert out there... it's a beautiful world and there's lots to see. You'll see more on a bike, I guarantee it.

Oh... and watch out for ducks & squirrels.

1 comment:

alice b. toeclips said...

two guys I know hit deer: Glen Winkel flying down Tam, nails a deer that leaps before him, there was nothing he could do. Ruined bike, semi-ruined Glen. But he went on to race again.
Other friend, Greg Garcia, smoothly descending Glen (no relation) drive in Fairfax after a lovely moonlight ascent of Loma Alta...deer is startled by the head light on the quiet street (where White Hill Middle School is)...and it jumps straight through Greg's (he is a big guy) bike's center triangle. Comes out the other side with two broken legs, while Greg is hurled to the ground (no helmet) and cracks skull.
Deer limps off to die, Greg goes on to live a full life, riding as much if not more...but with a helmet.