Monday, August 8, 2016

The Wildlife-Imposed Time Out

There aren't many times I enjoy coming to a stop while driving. Possessing a full-blown case of driving fatigue (the result of the miles I pile up as a professional driver), each stop is yet-another speed bump which endangers a schedule perpetually short in time and rich in distance.

Traffic lights, farm equipment, construction, accidents (which no longer seem very accidental for a population bent on texting and phoning)–all conspire to prevent me from the timely completion of my appointed rounds.

Which is why I drive like you—aside from the texting and the lane departure stuff.

But every condition, every circumstance, every rule has its exception. And this is no, well, exception. Yes, you heard that right. There are times I actually like to stop. Or at least, don't fucking hate it.

You are pregnant with anticipation. Swollen by a single-minded curiosity to discover under what conditions I could possibly be willing to apply my size thirteen foot to a brake pedal.

Let your water break. Let the contractions begin. Wonder no more.

You see, I frequent a roadway which winds around a retention pond favored by Canadian geese. An expansive green lawn sits on the opposite side. This, too, is enjoyed by the small flock.

But a problem exists. At some point each day, the flock wish to go for a swim. And for reasons known only to them, they desire to cross the two-lane road on foot. And so they begin their march.

Inevitably, traffic appears. And to my eternal wonderment, it stops. Even dudes with shaved heads and goatees driving obnoxious pick-ups trucks that scream “I am badass! Fear me!” do.

It is remarkable.

And this isn't an isolated incident. 

Twenty-years ago and much nearer the sturm und drang of Chicago, four lanes of rush hour traffic came to a halt because a mother duck needed to lead her eight charges across the street to another portion of the wetlands bisected by our noisy concrete.

Even as we routinely treat our fellow motorists like obstacles and endeavor to sweep each other aside like so much roadside trash, we willingly indulge these creatures as they haltingly make their way across the street.

Instead of provoking stress, this inversion of mankind's hierarchy has the opposite effect. There is no anxiety. No impatient sighs. Fingers don't tap steering wheels. This wildlife-imposed time out quite literally forces us to remove our feet from the gas pedal. I smile.

Thoreau, wherever he is, couldn't be happier.

Eventually, their crossing is complete and we resume the rat race. We fight each other and our self-imposed barriers; the signs and stoplights which impede us.

One explanation for the rise of religion is that mankind needed to believe in something greater than himself, presumably to lift the curatorial burden of the world from his narrow shoulders.

And while I see a distinct lack of Christianity from behind the wheel of my bus, these geese, in some small way, give us pause and put us in touch with something apart from our schedules and our texts and our angst.

Bless them.

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