I almost hit a wolf on the way out of Thief River Falls the other evening. I'm pretty sure it was a wolf, but I suppose it might have been a coyote.
I was driving the Smiley Road; must have been just east of the river. I was feeling a little bit blue, because I had passed Alison and Jona's new house, looking all happy and peaceful with its lights all aglow in the winter night. Yes, to be quite frank, I was crying. Sobbing, in fact. It's so easy to know God is good and merciful and has a great eternal plan. But knowing and feeling are two very different things. And it just plain feels unfair that this young couple has to bear such great grief.
And so I was crying.
I was trying to wiggle a tissue from my purse when I got to the part of the trip, where the woods comes right up to the road on both sides, and the compacted snow and ice are pretty much ever present. I had to give up on my tissue pursuit until I got past the icy area. Bleary eyes on ice is bad enough; I didn't think I ought to add distracted driving into the mix.
Once I was past the icy spot, I once again attempted to work the tissue out of my purse. Just as I got it free, I sensed movement out of the corner of my right eye. Out of the ditch, just ahead of the car, darted a gray figure. Shot like a bullet, straight for the side of my car. I flinched, but tried hard to stay the course and not veer out of its path.
At first I thought it was a deer. I saw the gray figure for only a split second. It was all so quick. I looked back thinking it would run right into the back side of my car, at the passenger door area, or the back wheel. But it was gone as quickly as it had appeared.
I'm quite sure it was not a deer. It ran low to the ground and darted rather than leapt. Even in the brief moment I saw it, I sensed its skulking posture. But it seemed bigger than a coyote ought to be, and fuller, and... well... just plain big.
The adrenaline of that pretty much chased my tears away for the next few miles.
Until I heard Rodney Atkins singing It's America.
It's a high school prom
It's a Springstein song
It's a ride in a Chevrolet
It's a man on the moon
And fireflies in June
Kids sellin' lemonade
It's cities and farms
And open arms
One nation under God
Anybody have another Kleenex?