Tag Archives: driving

Unexpected passenger

Things I didn´t expect to happen today:

I stopped by a friend’s, for something entirely unrelated to raccoons, and he mentions “You want a raccoon?”  I hadn’t noticed the live trap  sitting there with a miserable raccoon balled up in it.

The next thing I knew I´d volunteered to take the raccoon away, since he couldn´t at the moment.  We stowed the cage on the back seat of my car and I left.

People who have dogs (or kids?) are used to being aware of the living thing in the back seat, breathing and skritching.  For me it´s a novelty.  I like transporting birds in boxes, listening hard for their movements and purring.

As soon as we pulled away, this so far mild mannered raccoon went on an escape offensive, resuming the determined attempts to dig out that she had been obviously working it since being trapped.

There was a huge racket in the back seat as the captive clawed and scratched at the cardboard box around the cage.  Sounded like she was trying to punch her way out.

I took the little raccoon far away from any human habitations (far, I promise), set the cage out on the ground, and opened the door.  Facing the opposite way, the raccoon continued to stare mournfully at me.

Obviously he was convinced that he was about to die, at every moment.

She spent quite a while watching me before relaxing enough to go “back to work”,  and when she turned around, zoom!  That raccoon ran.  I didn´t even get a picture of the great escape.

Unexpected raccoon rehoming.  Luckily I didn´t have any packrat-style adventures.

Driving Ms. Daisies

There’s little I enjoy more than driving home new hens.  Usually in some ersatz container – sheet over stock tank, random boxes. Today my coat over a box with no bottom.

I like carrying them hugged in my arm for the first time, telling them they’re going to a new home now, their heads bobbing around looking at everything from 4´ higher up than usual.  Sliding them into the carrying container du jour.  The quiet that falls once we get on the road, broken by a few questioning little chirps from the backseat, some shuffling on tight corners.  I sing to them, or play the radio

Today I picked up three hens I hadn’t known I would be, leftovers from the year’s laying flock that were hanging around as outlaws in the barn.  I can’t resist a good hen, especially when it’s otherwise doomed.

They’re nice.  Low hens, tame and easy to catch. Curious, as they always are, but laid back.  In the dark I carried the broken-bottomed box of birds on my forearms, with their feet sticking through and grabbing onto me, from my truck to the greenhouse  to tuck them into the coop, their new home.

Tomorrow they will meet the rooster.

Winter driving

It’s starting to get cold.  The snow line is creeping down the mountains, making me think of snowboarding.  Temps are hovering between minus and plus 3 at night, and that means my relationship to driving will soon change.

At minus 10 and below, it’s too cold for biodiesel without a fuel tank heater, and the vegetable oil starts to gel.  So, it has to be blended with normal diesel.  Half and half even, in deep winter and going over passes.  Alberta is out of the question.

The other day I put in the first $10 of normal diesel since the summer, and that made me think about my driving habits again.  Driving biodiesel is not totally “clean”- driving at all has an impact, and the more miles you put on means petroleum products galore: oil changes and fluids and tires and maintenance – but it’s better, and for a little while I hardly thought twice about driving when I wanted to.  Putting nasty normal diesel in the tank means assessing the importance of every kilometer again and spending more energy hitchhiking and ridesharing.

Sigh.

It was fun while it lasted.  I swear, that must have been how it felt like 50 years ago, when gas was cheap and the road was fun to drive on, just to fly.  No one goes for Sunday drives anymore.  Gas matters.  It’s expensive and fraught with moral implications and we spend so much time driving because we have to that it’s ceased to be fun.

Road trip

Unreasonably happy tonight.  I’m the only car tucked in the trees of a rest area an hour from Kelowna, with strong cell service that ensures my phone alarm will wake me when I need it to tomorrow, my perfect truck is gently vibrating as it slowly sips from a full tank of biodiesel, and I’m clean and warm and wrapped in down in the back seat, zipped into my extravagantly subzero sleeping bag and jacket, writing on my computer and drinking San Pellegrino to the shadows of trees above me through the sunroof, all aimed at a vanishing point in the distant stars.  How could it get better than this?

On the drive I’ve had six hitchhikers but mostly been alone. I was blessed to see three grizzly bears, and I saved the life of the only deer I saw tonight.

I think I was the only one to see the bears.  I drive on the right side of my vehicle and caught them out of the corner of my eye crossing a cut block, gaped and slowed, then pulled over as soon as I could and  turned around, hoping to get a picture.  I saw then that they had waited as I had for opposing traffic to pass, and were crossing the highway.  Big mama and two cubs 2/3 as big as she.  All shimmering in the afternoon sun with that unmistakable ash blonde and silvery upper coat and dark brown undercarriages.  Motoring along, with long loping strides.  Wow.  I tried to focus on them as they slipped back over the bank but the shot is only one of those awful Loch Ness monster pictures that could just as well be a bad picture of three gophers in a brush pile.

I love my truck, but it has no guns going up a grade, so I was collecting a few pairs of headlights behind me with no passing lane in sight, so I suddenly got fed up, half pulled over, dumped my speed, and flashed my lights to tell the car behind me to pass.  The high beams just caught the deer that was standing in the middle of the lane facing away from us.  The car behind me had slowed too, the way people do in that situation, waiting to figure out what you’re doing, and he saw it too in my lights, braked and waited for the confused little thing to get off the road.  Random, perfect timing.  Another moment before making that decision and I would have come on it at speed with no time to react while being followed closely, and any number of bad things could have happened.  I love these kinds of confirmations that I’m tapped into the connections of life and my path, and in that place I feel perfectly safe and good and have no fear.

Oh, and earlier:  I was tired and wanting to pull over for a nap but feeling too gritty to be able to enjoy it, so  I followed the sudden tug to pull into a campsite and ask if I could buy a shower.  I was greeted by five working dogs with eyes so intelligent they made me feel insecure, and a surprised and slightly sauced horsewoman/proprietor named Wednesday who invited me in for a kick of moonshine with the boys, pointed at the bathroom door, refused money, and all but hugged me with open-hearted welcome.  I’m so glad that such a thing is possible in the world.  Two of the dogs stood watch at the bathroom door (I heard one slump his body against it after I closed it) and flirted shamelessly for ear scratches when I emerged.  That hot strong shower perked me up like four hours sleep, and I went on driving.

I love my life.