It was a slow day in the store. Annie and I chipped away at inventory and preparations for the coming holiday season; a quick meeting with an ad rep for the local paper, taking inventory of holiday bags, ordering cheese and greeting customers while Annie reduced an enormous bag of salts ands spice blends to manageable tins stocked for sale.
We turned the key as the last light was leaving the sky and the streetlights were beginning to glow. Annie left the parking area first, there was no need to warm up our cars as the balmy winds, remnants of Hurricane Patricia, had driven the temps in to the high 60s. I missed the light at the four-corners, but saw Annie’s car make the turn ahead of me. As I turned off the main road, I adjusted my speed and focused. This time of year, particularly if it is this warm, deer, moose and sundry creatures are often moving at dusk and they don’t have a GPS to let them know where automobiles might be streaking by. If I’m lucky, my headlights illuminate their eyes in the distance and I have a fair warning to slow and pass safely. The old Deer-in-the-Headlights scenario is very real.
I came over a slight rise and saw the car headed toward me wildly flashing his lights. My own headlights illuminated a massive tree that had decided to give up its life and fall directly across the road ahead. There was no going around it. From my direction, drivers coming behind me had a clear view that there was a problem of some sort though the clouds were obstructing any moonlight and we were far from streetlights. From the oncoming direction there was a tight curve and no way to warn those approaching. Another car stopped as I steered to the edge of the road and leapt out. Soon there were three vehicles parked on the dangerous curve.
I sprinted to the first vehicle, a pick-up, and found the driver already climbing into the bed of his truck searching for chains. The second driver sat stunned but I managed to send him in search of a flashlight to warn drivers coming to the curve. When he proved too slow, I ran to the next truck and instructed him to drive around the corner and stop traffic.
Back at the tree, a fellow had joined the first driver. He said he had a chain saw in his truck but the first man had already wrapped a cable around the trunk of the tree and was preparing to drag it with his truck. Instead, the three of us picked up an end and dragged it to the edge of the pavement.
It was all over in an instant, just as life can be…