Bittersweet season approaches the Ozarks, that is , bittersweet emotionally for me. The leaves have turned and mostly dropped from the deciduous trees , leaving only the green of the eastern cedars , and the few pines and other evergreens native to our forest. While the landscape is decidedly a bit forlorn though, the forest creatures pop into view , [ especially into the roads ] creating the late autumn – early winter mosaic of what many of us hillbillys call “the road kill cafe”.
“Look there,” calls little Billy from the back seat as Daddy swerves to miss the carcass of a big buck whitetail lying halfway in the road. ” Man, I bet he had at least a ten point rack ! Look out for the broken glass, Daddy ! Do you think that car had to be towed from the ditch? ,” he remarked excitedly upon the sight of the skid marks crossing the lane of pavement and ending in the dirt shoulder of the road. And so the afternoon ride through the woods proceeds, with the children [ and adults , too ] remarking upon the various fauna of the forest lying at various points in the road having met their match on the highway and thusly left in ignoble, frozen, various poses for the wandering eye to see .
Along the twisting, curving way drivers might see squirrels flattened or armadilloes rolled and lying with their four feet pointing up to the heavens. And some of them, the armadilloes, will have a carefully placed beer can or bottle placed between their front paws, making it seem that they had drunk themselves into a stupor ! Skunks abound, and careful manuvering should be taken in avoiding these little stinkbombs of the journey, lest in death they accomplish what they were feared for in life and leave an unpleasant reminder of this journey in ones automobile for awhile ! ” Dad ! ” yells little Susie from across the car. ” You hit him on purpose ! Whew ! ” she screams while Billy laughs and chokes from his end of the seat.
After some miles and waning smiles, when the setting sun shines through the windshield blinding Daddys’eyes and causing him to swerve into the opposite lane of traffic and swear, the end of the roadtrip draws near, and the recollections of the buzzards lunching, and the coyotes wolfing the remains of the roadkill cafe , [sometimes becoming dinner themselves ! ] begin to fade with the grins of the sleepy children , Daddy pulls in to the end of the driveway and says to Mommy, “What’s for supper , dear ? “