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Posts Tagged ‘highway signs’

If you know any Virgos, I’m sure you’re already aware that we tend to have very busy, restless minds.

Because of my busy-busy Virgo brain, and in spite of all my spiritual and philosophical training, I have finally given up on traditional empty-your-mind meditation. Now I just let the thoughts run, and pay attention only when the nattering gets interesting. (Nattering is one of my favorite British-isms, snogging being the other. Nattering is superficial chatter.)

I’ve found that the two pastimes which elicit the most fun and useful nattering are showering and long drives. The shower usually unearths great writing ideas; while I’m driving, my monkey mind latches on to whatever’s passing by and spins off from there, sometimes with pretty silly results.

This particular train of thought was jolted into consciousness the day we left Banff, British Columbia and my brain was looking for diverting but not dangerously absorbing things to tinker with as I drove. (In case you’re wondering, my daughter Julia, navigator, critter manager, advisor and heavy lifter, is unable to drive due to disabilities … so that’s my job).

What triggered the mental journey was a truly gorgeous deer crossing sign which showed up for a brief period somewhere in eastern British Columbia or western Alberta.

You see signs all over the US, wherever deer or elk present driving hazards, and until that day I’d never seen anything but the homogenized leaping stag pictured below that I supposed every state must buy from the same source.

The unique Canadian deer crossing sign I saw that day had all the power and iconic punch of a cave painting. It was spare, evocative rather than realistic, and I wished I could have stopped the car to take a photo for posterity. It truly was a work of art!

I later googled “deer crossing sign” and learned that there are some other styles, and hundreds of both athletic and overweight versions of the homogenous, ubiquitous stag, and even duck, goose, otter, squirrel, horse and rider and turkey crossing signs, but nothing to match the Canadian cave painting version, sorry to say.

This, of course, started me thinking about my habit of always checking out deer crossing signs, especially in remote areas, to see if someone had gone to the trouble to give the deer a Rudolph Red Nose. I typically judge an area’s cultural personality based on whether or not the deer have red noses.

If there are people living there who are willing to go to the local office supply store for a sheet of big red dots, and then travel around in the dead of night decorating deer crossing signs just to make travelers smile, then that’s a place I’d probably like. In Humboldt County, California, in Redwood country just south of the Oregon border, which I explored thoroughly over a 16-year period, I don’t recall ever seeing a red-nose-less deer. And I loved it there.

The cave-painting-esque deer sign appeared for only a short distance on our route, followed by signs identical to the ones in the states, and then followed, once we entered Saskatchewan, by an odd creature with deer antlers, a blobby, moose-like snout, and not a red nose in sight.

And then, back in the states, we returned to the homogenized leaping stags, and I resumed my traveling pastime of assessing locales based on the state of the deer’s noses.

Until we reached Maine, where the first thing we saw was a big sign – words only, no images – cautioning us to watch for moose on the highway … and I haven’t seen a deer/elk sign, with or without a red nose, since we arrived.

I’m sure there’s something profound to be made of this, beyond warning me that we’re not in Kansas any more, Toto … but I haven’t figured what yet. When I do, I’ll probably post it.

Anyone out there have a deer sign story to share?

Well, it’s time to start re-packing for our move-in Tuesday. Talk to you again soon!

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