(Yes, woolly bears, not buggers.)
A Vermont State trooper pulled me over yesterday on a country road leading from the farm to town. He was professionally cordial when he asked for my license and registration. Compliant and affable, I asked what the problem was. Seems he had observed me ‘weaving’ on the road, even crossing the median strip a couple of times, and suspected that I might be driving ‘under the influence’. As he ran my numbers on his cruiser’s computer, I sat behind the wheel looking outwardly calm and patient, but inside I was dreading the routine of taking my first field sobriety test.
When he approached my truck to return my paperwork, he said “Before I ask you to step out of the vehicle, could you please explain why you were driving so erratically?”
“Woolly bears,” I answered. “They’re all over the roads and I was doing my best to keep from squishing them.” When he grinned, I thought, “Uh oh!”
But handing over my license and such, he laughed and noted that he had been dodging them as well, never having seen so many of the critters on the byways. “Have a good day, sir,” and he was gone.
He was right! I have never seen so many of the cinnamon and black caterpillars in all my years. But then this was my first fall driving the back roads of Vermont and I figured that this was just the perfect “bear”environment.
As I continued to town and during my next several drives, I observed the pavement carefully as I dodged hundreds of the furry critters. But I saw no smashed ones. Not a single one! (My thoughts drifted back to my childhood days in east Tennessee, walking to school with my brothers, and the dozens of flattened frogs we saw on the country roads. If they had dried sufficiently in the southern sun, we sailed them at each other like frisbees!)
Apparently, other Vermont drivers have the same compassion for the woolly bears as I do. Now there’s a breath of optimism for the human spirit.
(I doubt I’ll be so kind next week to the partridge!)