In a perfect world, I'd make my living as a writer. In the real world, I pay for my Cheerios by running a resale clothing shop.
We start changing from summer inventory to fall after the Fourth of July. Handling polar fleece jackets and bulky sweaters in the middle of a heat wave isn't my idea of fun but it has to be done. With school starting back in early August, it's important to get our fall inventory out in a timely manner.
So we cranked the air conditioning down another notch and started tagging long-sleeved tops and hoodies. We hung them up and waited. And waited.
Usually the weather starts its gradual cooling off in September, but not this year. The mercury stayed stuck at 90 degrees. I was beginning to think I'd fallen down a rabbit hole into an alternate universe of perpetual summer. I threatened to start tagging shorts and capris again.
Then finally, blessedly, the temperatures started dropping this week.
With the cooler weather come the deer. In past years, I've lived in White and Towns counties. Those areas teem with wildlife but never have I seen as many deer as I've spotted this week in the Riverside Drive/Cleveland Highway area.
On my way to work, a fawn and its mother trotted across my path near Enota Elementary School.
I sat at the traffic light at Park Hill Drive and Enota and watched a young buck frolic in the field off to my right.
Late that afternoon, a herd of six deer clip-clopped their way across the parking lot in front of my shop. I didn't witness the accident so I'm not sure if a deer hit a car or the other way around, but there was a collision. The deer sped off. The car needed a wrecker.
And that's my point. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, deer account for roughly 1.5 million car crashes in the U.S. each year, killing about 150 motorists, injuring tens of thousands more and racking up more than $1 billion in insurance costs.
Keep in mind, too, an automobile insurance policy's collision coverage doesn't cover you if you hit a deer. It's the comprehensive coverage that pays for deer damage. With so many people cutting corners wherever they can, lots of folks are opting to only carry collision protection. That's yet another reason to slow down and pay attention.
State Farm Insurance issued a list of precautions for drivers in areas with heavy deer populations:
n Be aware of posted deer crossing signs. These signs are placed in known active deer crossing areas.
n Be aware that deer are most active during the evening, between 6 and 9 p.m.
n At night, use high-beam headlamps as much as possible to illuminate the sides of the road where deer can linger.
n Be aware that deer often move in packs; if you see one deer, there is a good chance several more are just a few yards behind.
n Do not rely on car-mounted "deer whistles." Studies have shown deer are not affected by this deterrence method.
If a collision with a deer seems inevitable, it may be best not to swerve. The risk of personal injury is greatly increased by swerving, which can place you in the path of oncoming vehicles or may cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
It's illegal to relocate deer. The only way to reduce the in-town population is to kill them. It's also illegal to discharge a gun in the city limits, so Gainesville residents are being given access to a list of available bow hunters.
The Georgia Wildlife Federation sponsors the Hunters for the Hungry program that coordinates the donation of processed venison to local food pantries. Last year, hunters in Georgia contributed 29,833 pounds of venison to this program. This is a good resource for in-town folks if they choose to have their backyard deer culled.
I'm a total softie when it comes to deer. I've never watched "Bambi" all the way through, for obvious reasons.
There's nothing more lovely than to step outside my front door in the early morning hours and watch deer peacefully grazing in the misty meadow across the way.
Ellen DeGeneres summed up my personal feelings about hunting when she said, "I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls. They always say because it's such a beautiful animal. There you go. I think my mother is attractive, but I have photographs of her."
But I'm also a realist and I value human life above all else. The in-town deer are dangerous. We need to be alert to their presence. Each day, I watch cars zip past my shop at speeds well in excess of the posted limit. If one of those cars were to strike a deer at that velocity, the result would be tragic.
So please, slow down and stay on guard. For the foreseeable future, you're not just sharing the road with motorcycles, bikes and the occasional skateboarder. You're sharing it with deer as well.
Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman. Her columns appear biweekly on Fridays and on gainesvilletimes.com.