Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Blogging As Therapy

While winding through the small, one-lane country road that leads to the home of my son's baby-sitter this morning, I accidentally hit and killed a young rabbit with my car. It shot across the road really fast, trying to get from one large yard on my left to another large yard on my right, I suppose.

I was paying attention, and not speeding.

I swear.

But I couldn't stop the car fast enough, and ran over the rabbit.

The event was slightly disturbing for me, especially considering that I got out of the car to see if I could save the rabbit, and witnessed the last few seconds of life leaving it's body.

It was even more traumatic because of the memory that it resurrected.

A kid growing up on a farm in the mountains of central West Virginia can't help but get close to nature on an almost daily basis. And part of getting close to nature, especially in deep Appalachian Mountain culture, involves hunting. I did my fair share of hunting, with my Dad and also by myself when I was a bit older. I don't think I enjoyed killing animals, but I didn't think too much about it as a pre-teen.

It was what it was, and it was what we did.

Besides, we lived next door to
guys like these. Guns and hunting came easy.

One summer day in what I would guess was 1978, my family and I were taking a nice weekend drive through Jerry's Fork, along a very rugged mountain ridge near a place called Peach Orchard. The truck had to travel slowly, so my brother and I rode in the back of the flat-bed, goofing off mostly and looking for trouble. Suddenly, a groundhog shot across the path, and headed over an embankment into a creek bed about 40 yards from the truck.

My brother Jeff and I let out a holler and jumped out of the truck. As my dad tried to figure out what we were doing, we began chasing the groundhog through the creek, screaming and tossing rocks at it as we ran. We cornered it, finally, against a hillside just beside the creek.

In some type of hypnotic blood-lust, we stoned that groundhog to death.

After the groundhog died, my brother and I were sort of unsure how we should feel. We spent our childhood playing Cowboys & Indians, idolizing John Wayne and begging to go hunting with our dad; we had a romantic ideal of killing, and expected it to make us feel heroic, or strong.

Instead, it made us feel ashamed, and sick to our stomachs.

We talked about it a lot of times during the years that followed. It was a defining moment in my life, one in which I began to recognize the abuse that can come with power and authority, and how cruel and thoughtless the actions of people can be, even when it's unintentional.

I understood it, because I lived it. Even just for that silly, insignificant little moment.

Damn, I never saw that rabbit coming...


All Click said...

Nice post. I've hit a rabbit before when driving and it's not nice. I didn't stop though, i just kept driving and told myself it was just a big stone that I hit, right next to that cute bunny.

I doubt I could ever go hunting. I even feel bad killing spiders and flys.

Buzzardbilly said...

I so feel your pain. I once hit a bird. I'd swerved to miss it but it somehow got hit with my back tire. I made the mistake of looking back to see if it had made it. It hadn't. It was flopping. It was awful and I couldn't get it out of my mind all day.

No lie, I think I recognize one of the Bobs in that video. If I do, that's not really his accent at all. Not really surprising if it is. He was always an ass.

The Film Geek said...

Thanks All Click. No hunting for me since I was 16 or so. It just isn't for me.

And thanks, Buzzardbilly, for understanding. Yep, it was the flopping around that sort of did it. That and the "krrr-uunch" that I heard under my tire. And I thought of you when I added the video! I first saw that about a year ago, and always wanted a reason to post it. As I understand it, those guys run an independent video production business outiside of Charleston. But, that's all I'm a-saying...

Stanton said...

I once hit a rabbit on the road while heading out on a trip to the beach. The little bugger ran back and forth trying to figure out which way to go to dodge my car, back and forth and back and forth until...SPLAT! Man, I couldn't shake the image for the whole 7 hour drive.

But they do taste lovely fricasseed!

Happy hippo said...

On our way to a family reunion, my dad hit a squirrel. I guess he saw it flopping in the rearview mirror and turned around to put it out of its misery. My brother and I were scarred for life.

Evil Twin's Wife said...

That's so awful. I hit a groundhog once with my car and cried for hours. No wonder I was a vegetarian for about 9 years.

Hoyt said...

I really enjoyed this post!

I'll never forget the time my dad hit a deer while driving near Hawk's Nest about thirty or so years ago. I'm going to spare the graphic description here, but I wish we had blogging back then.

Kelly said...

Everytime I see a squirrel or rabbit running out in front of me I seem to just pull my foot off the pedal and squeal. Like that's gonna do something! DUH!

The only animal I will swerve to hit are snakes. The only good snake is a dead snake!

The Film Geek said...

Stanton: I bet they make good hot dog filler, too!

HH: That vision never goes away, huh?

ETW: I don't eat a lot of meat, just because of my farm experiences. In fact, I rarely eat meat, unless Stanton's buying the hot dogs. :)

Hoyt: I heat ya. I just had to write it down. And I felt better for it, until I read the word "fricaseed."

(I've really enjoyed poking on Stanton tonight!) :)

Buzzardbilly said...

A belated comment to say your post inspired my blog today. I know you already read it and commented, so this is a comment to restore the manners I lacked while I wrote my blog in the middle of the night.

The Film Geek said...

There is nothing to apologize for, we're family.(Waitaminute...did that sound creepy?!?) In an Appalachian sorta way. You get what I mean.

It was an excellent post!

jennyville said...

I shot a raccoon once that was behaving strangely and probably had rabies. Someone had to do it, really, but I still feel bad about it to this day. It cured me of ever being the slightest bit interested in hunting - I'd rather take a camera into the woods than a gun.

Elvis Drinkmo said...

Damn, I must be a real redneck because what those guys are doing in that video looks like fun. We took down some beer cans last Thanksgiving and now I want to buy a few globes for next year. Start a new game with 3 targets: Iran, Vatican City, and Israel- just to show that we don't discriminate between the world's three most ridiculous superstitions that have gotten carried way too damn far over the past two thousand years. And if anyone thinks we're discriminating against the religious- how 'bout communist China? That could be the "Free Tibet" bonus round.

Seriously, I know what you're saying about killing animals- purposely or accidentally. It didn't use to bother me so much until I got into my mid-20's. At one point in my life, I would have never thought twice about shooting something like a possum or a coon- but once you've watched a raccoon mom raising her babies on the back porch for a week straight, it gives anyone with any kind of feelings a new perspective.

A few years ago a little fawn ran up on my truck and before I could do anything. It went down like it got sucked under my tires. I stopped and went back to make sure it wasn't just laying there in the middle of the road suffering, but it was gone and my only comfort was to keep thinking that she/he didn't get all that hurt and made a full recovery.

Suzy said...

Sheesh. I've often wondered what it would feel like had I actually hit that little furry critter that always seems to squat in front of my vehicle... Thanks for the heartfelt, Geek. You are a wordsmith!

The Film Geek said...

Sure, Suzy. It's an unpleasant story, and one that I'm really sorry about. So, learn from my mistake! Don't hit the critter!

(And thanks) :)

jedijawa said...

Hmm...my comment yesterday must not have gone through. This reminded me of when I hit a dog once a few years ago on the interstate. It came out of nowhere and I had no way to avoid it due to cars on the other sides of me. It was a terrible feeling and it was very messy ... both during and after. I still remember the chill of looking in the rearview mirror after the sickening thud and assessing the damage to the car afterwards.

I hadn't thought of that since then. Excellent post Film Geek.