Flatten Fauna

2 Apr

When my sons were in that challenging pre and early teen years, we made a number of cross country driving trips. Even though I was driver, cook and campground organizer, they were very special times with memories that I cherish. Being a teacher I made certain that both boys could both read a map, estimate miles and record the actual miles traveled and expenses in a  logbook. They would plan the itinerary for the next day and make those tough decisions between buying fast food for lunch and having money for entrance fees at the cave they saw. We ate a lot of picnic sandwich lunches. Calculating the miles per gallon added a little depth to the log book.

To pass the time on some of those long flat miles through eastern Washington, Montana or the Dakotas we played the counting games. On different trips we counted VW bettles, horse trailers and oil wells all dutifully recorded in that same log book. We also counted and attempted to identify flatten fauna. My mother had introduced them to making such counts but we raised it to a new higher level when we gave her a copy of the book Flattened Fauna: A Field Guide to Common Animals of Roads, Streets and Highways.  Our log included the other general groups of furry, non furry or feathered. At the end of the trip we would review the daily counts to award the title for animal not fast enough to cross the road. Racoons and deer were often tied for winner.

My husband has been happy to participate in such counts although we don’t keep log books unless it is a long trip. We take note here of the vultures who fly above the freshly flattened. They can make the ID part a little harder. This winter we made a number of trips along one 45 miles stretch of road to and from the doctor’s office. We would average 7 flattened but still smelly skunks per every 15 miles. We had a clear winner but chose not to present the award in person. We are happy to let vultures do their jobs. They must be good at it because we rarely saw a flattened feathered.

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2 Responses to “Flatten Fauna”

  1. Nancy April 18, 2013 at 6:29 AM #

    Somehow I lost my “follow”status and missed this post. Today I just remembered to look. Again, I love it. And I love the term, flattened fauna. Far more palatable than the one I learned on college road trips, road kill. My husband even had a T-shirt with Road Kill Cafe on the back and the menu on the front. It took years for that T-shirt to wear out enough that I could throw it away. (Hoarded sentimental t-shirt collection is a whole separate topic!)

    • compterteach April 18, 2013 at 8:06 AM #

      Glad you enjoyed it. I do understand the hoarded T-shirts. I have my Paul Revere and the Raiders T, Neil Diamond bandana and C: DOS, C: DOS Run sweatshirt.

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