I'm really getting into the swing of this whole commute-by-bike-to-school thing. Of course I'm not really doing the whole thing by bike, so perhaps that makes me something of a poseur. Whatever.
Things are definitely different out there once the lights go out. Three weeks ago I wrote about my close encounter with three frightened racoons (Homeless attack!). Last week on my way through Harriet I had a close encounter with a skunk. He or she was minding his or her own business by the side of the trail when I came whizzing by. Alarmed, he or she lifted his or her tail and showed me the business end of her or his scent glands. Fortunately, by the time the tail went up I had gone by, so there was no tomato juice bath in my future.
This Monday I tried a slightly different route home. Instead of taking the bridge into Harriet and riding the trail near Water Street I went down to Shepard Road and took the bike path that runs parallel to it. This path is nice and wide, straight and well lit. The Water Street/Lilydale Road path is dark and narrow. It also twists and turns through the woods, blocking any potential moonlight.
As I rode along I saw something ahead in the path. It was a deer. The deer was standing perpendicular to the path so I couldn't have gone around it (switching to the gender neutral pronoun to avoid that silly his or her stuff) if I wanted to. The deer stared at me, and I slowed down and stared back. After a few seconds it turned and ran into the brush along with two other deer that had been lying down, hidden, next to the trail.
When I reached 35E the trail forked and I wasn't sure which direction to head. I'd never ridden this trail before, so I was going on faith. I was pretty sure that if I headed south I would meet up with the Lilydale trail. I started to head south, but saw a tunnel under 35E and decided to try that instead. Once through the tunnel I saw another deer, this time just slightly off the path. I rode along until I reached Crosby Farm park. I knew there wasn't anywhere to safely cross the river by bike in that direction so I turned around.
On my return trip to the tunnel I saw another group of three deer. They were in the same spot as the single I'd seen before, so it may have been the same deer and friends. I headed south and followed the trail up to the 35E bridge that crosses the river. On my way to the bridge I saw one more deer just for luck, bringing my total for the night to either 7 or 8 depending on how you score the potential duplicate.
The 35E bridge brought me right to my old trail, dark, twisty and wooded. And you know, a part of me prefers that. At least now that my new headlight has shown up.