When people come to visit me at my house in woods, I tell them to drive slowly and watch out for deer… and wild turkeys… and porcupine… and snapping turtles. In the three years I’ve lived there, on a wooded hill by a lake in the Bangor area, I’ve come to realize that I have many wild neighbors, and they’re not shy about crossing the road.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve been late to work or a family get-together because I’ve stopped my vehicle to photograph an animal on the road. It happens all the time. But last week was my favorite roadside encounter yet.
My husband and I had just left our house to go hiking and were driving down the massive hill that our house is perched on when two deer stepped into the roadway several yards ahead of us. A mother deer and her baby.
I expected them to dart into the woods, but they just stood there in the middle of the road, staring at our truck. Fortunately, I had my camera equipment, including my 100-400mm lens, which I use to photograph wildlife from afar. Excitedly, I reached into the back seat to snatch up the lens and fasten it on my camera body.
“Are they still there?” I asked my husband in a hushed voice, as if the deer could hear us from so far away.
He assured me they were.
I quickly snapped a photo of the deer from inside the car, then stepped out onto the road, expecting the animals to dart off at any moment. But they didn’t. They just stood there, ears turning this way and that, the perfect models. Not only did I have time to take several photos, I had time to play with my camera settings, then get back inside the truck and simply watch them for several minutes until they decided to move on, into the woods.
People often ask me why I choose to live a half hour from town on a gravel road that turns to mush in the spring and messes up my car alignment. And all I have to do is show them that photograph of the baby deer, or the giant snapping turtle I helped cross the road by the lake, or the owl my husband spotted beside the road by a nearby wetland (and I jumped out of bed and drove to in my pajamas to photograph).
I’ve also taken video of wild turkeys hopping across the road, and porcupines waddling along. Chipmunks, squirrels and mourning doves simply seem to hang out in the road. And when it rains, the roadway is covered with frogs.
I love wildlife. These are the neighbors I want. And I don’t mind driving a little slow, just in case I come across one of these critters on the way home.