Counting deer from the car—or bike—has been a ritual for Bob and me for decades.
The herds especially like to feed in a field near our house, where, at dusk, we’ve spotted up to a couple dozen at a time.
Since my eyesight has been known to be slightly suspect at times, I always confirm with my seeing-eye-Bob that it’s a doe or a buck, and not a tree stump. And over the years, we’ve switched it up a bit, allotting 10 points for a deer that’s running, or one that’s right by the road.
Recently, a deer was not only close to the road, he was on the road—running across it, actually, right beside us.
From the back of the bike, I could’ve reached out and touched him, if I hadn’t been so freaked out that we would hit him. Terrified, I grabbed Bob’s ribs with both hands—our signal for “Yikes!”
The deer had come running so quickly, Bob hadn’t even seen him.
Thankfully, his lightning-fast reflexes kicked in and he gunned the gas, just as the deer tried to sprint in front of us, turning us all into instant roadkill.
We missed him by mere millimeters, watching him rear up on his hind legs in our rearview mirror.
Cruising on our Kawasaki, we’ve seen rare bald eagles soaring skyward, and kamikaze birds playing chicken, way too close to the ground. Even though they have the entire sky to fly in, for some reason, they insist on swooping directly in front of our fender.
We’ve seen dogs on boats and rescued roadside turtles, returning them to their ditches.
Once, we even saw a mini goat perched on top of a horse in a Lowbanks barnyard, and just last month, did a double-take at a woman walking four dogs—and a pony—down the street in Port Robinson.
And yes, Bob witnessed both of these sights, too.
Another strange thing I’ve noticed—what’s with the lazy livestock in western Ontario?
While travelling rural farm roads in London, Goderich, and recently in Lucan, I can’t help but wonder why all the cows are lying down.
I could’ve sworn that most of the cattle here in our neck of the woods spend the bulk of their day standing up, on four hooves.
Another roadside game we’ve revised through the years is “Punch buggy,” in which you (supposedly) lightly punch your roadside partner, each time you spy a Volkswagen Beetle. But Bob and I grew bored of that, and one day a few summers back, decided to switch it to punching for ice cream shops. Then, when that grew too painful, since we were surrounded by several in a summer resort town, we made it a bit more challenging. Now, we’re only allowed to punch when we see a worm/bait shop ice cream stand combo.
Ask anyone who’s been together 28 years, and you’ll find that fun games of pummeling each other can be quite therapeutic.
On the flip side, I’ve also been hugging him from behind for 28 years, each time we pass a golf course and he’s exploring the world with me, instead of playing golf—which he hates. And if I happen to miss a hug, I get the sideways stinkeye, or a lot of loud throat-clearing to remind me.
Just last weekend, Bob changed the rules again.
“I think even if it used to be a golf course but it’s not anymore, I should get a hug,” he said.
In a nutshell, I guess you could say that’s our recipe for happiness: 28 years of hugging, balanced by 28 years of punching.
But who’s counting?