Wendy’s sister Sa is a great and eclectic artist. If you think I’m biased, check out her website: www.saboothroyd.com. Sa lives in Gibson’s, BC with our friend Jody and their two daughters Lucy and Pippa. Sa spends many hours on her bicycle. I don’t know everything that goes on in her head as she stares at the road ahead, but part of her brain is analyzing the treasures on the shoulder. She frequently stops to collect stuff – and if you buy her a good cup of coffee and a delicious scone I’m sure she’d be happy to tell you about it.
Don’t tell Sa, but the other day all three of us peddled past a quarter lying on the pavement. It was on an uphill and none of us wanted to lose momentum – especially now that a US quarter is worth less than a Canadian one. However, just south of Roswell, NM I saw a treasure trove beneath my tires. I immediately thought about Sa and wheeled back to check it out. It was a heap of coins: 7 quarters, a dime and four pennies. I couldn’t figure out how it got there in a neat, discreet pile. I almost checked behind the nearest cactus to see if someone from “Candid Camera” was hiding with a video camera. I picked up the cash anyway and bought scones with it at the next grocery store.
If you are in the mood for light-hearted reading, STOP now.
The other things we found along the shoulder of the highway were not treasures at all – but birds that had been hit by speeding vehicles. I guessed that more birds than usual had been concentrated along the road after the recent snowfall. The first was a stunned Cactus Wren. Malkolm picked it up and gently placed it behind a creosote bush away from the road, hoping it would revive. The rest of the birds were dead. Half-a-dozen Horned Larks, three Mourning Doves, a couple of Lark Buntings, a Harrier, a Short-eared Owl and a pair of Meadowlarks. There were many other unidentified piles of feathers.
The speed limit along that stretch of Highway 285 is 75 mph. As I cycled south, I wondered whether anyone has studied the relationship between high speed limits and road-killed birds. We know that slower speeds result in better gas mileage and less production of greenhouse gases. I wondered if people who cared about birds would slow down if they thought that might save a Horned Lark’s life. I hope so.