I'd say five trotted out of the ditch all at once; there was no way to avoid it. It bounced onto the hood of my car and then slipped off to the side to remain on the highway.
Despite that initial shock, I felt oddly calm.
This happens often where I live. Everyone I know who chooses to share this big beautiful Alberta wilderness with wildlife has one or even two of these stories to tell.
One person stopped immediately; I expected a stranger but it was a friend. She listened politely as I rambled on. My car seemed relatively unscathed but it was definitely not safe to be on the side of the highway even with our flashers blinking so I urged her to go on her way. I jumped back in my car to let someone past but instead someone else stopped, also a friend. She gave me a hug. We talked briefly. After a semi-trailer blew by us like a slap in the face, I urged her to travel on to work.
I still hadn't had an opportunity to actually go look at the deer. Honestly, I was avoiding it. Before I could, another driver stopped and in that morning dark I saw him grab something from the back of his truck, a shovel. He pushed the deer off the road and then came over to my car. A stranger, I shook his hand and thanked him for that. At least the road would be safe for drivers again. He said there's only one problem: the deer was still alive.
The calm drained out of me.
I thanked him again so he left and then it was just the two of us waiting for the sun to rise on that warm December morning, one alive, one dying.
Or maybe both? Not me, this time. I called Alberta Fish & Wildlife and was told someone was already traveling in the area and that he would euthanize the animal. My calm mostly returned but there was another feeling too.
The entire incident from collision to conclusion? Fifteen minutes. Although the repair bill will be costly, my car is drive-able. I'm alive and uninjured. It could have been much worse. At least for me. I even arrived to work on time. That's why something about this whole thing feels too easy.
Brandon Mull wrote "luck has a way of evaporating when you lean on it." I've think I've been leaning on luck, and luck is something I don't much believe in. Because if I did, then I'd probably learn nothing from this lesson about strangers, about mercy, about myself, and about every other ordinary extraordinary day when everything I touched, lived.