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Deer Spirit

Posted: Feb 19, 2007 I made a last minute decision to drive up to Nashville today. I needed to lay down vocals on a demo that Lee Bogan and I  wrote a couple of months back. We also needed to have another co-writing session, so I put the Honda in the wind and took off on the 6-hour drive, feeling confident that the trip would be a breeze. After all, last week’s ice and snow had left the mountains as of yesterday, and the temperature was headed north.

About an hour into my drive, just as I was passing into the Hendersonville, NC area along Hwy. 25, I came upon a traffic jam. Oh boy, I thought- I always happen upon these traffic accidents that take forever to get through. But it was okay. I had a full tank of gas, a new one-liter bottle of Aqua Fina and a whole pile of new tunes on my iPod, so I would survive.

In about fifteen minutes, I saw something that brought me back into reality and away from the blaring Southern Rock of Blackfoot. As a matter of fact, I turned the iPod completely off.

There was blood all over the road. I was a little unnerved.

As I crept closer, I saw two cop cars, and an 18-wheeler was pulled over onto the shoulder of the road.

As I got even closer, I saw something that would change my life forever. It was a deer. It had been struck by the oncoming tractor-trailer after running out of the nearby woods and being unable to clear the tall concrete wall that separated North bound traffic from South bound.

I heard the cops talking, and noticed the female cop was crying her eyes out. The male cop was telling her that the truck driver was quite upset and beside himself.

As I got right up on the scene, a third cop was directing traffic onto the shoulder and around the animal, which was still alive and moving, even though it had been maimed and was obviously suffering.

I rolled down my window and spoke to the male cop.

“Somebody needs to shoot her and put her out of her misery!”

“I know, son,” he replied. “We are just waiting for the bus with the kids over here to get by. We don’t want to upset them any more than we have to.”

Just as I became parallel with the deer, she lifted her head, not six feet from me, and looked me straight in the eye. The Cherokee part of me knew exactly what was happening. It was spirit-to-spirit communication. Jakson Spires and I used to talk about it all the time, as do my wife and I.

I believe I helped calm the animal and somehow aided in its transition to the other side. By the same token, I felt a renewed spirit, and a surge of energy throughout my own body.

When I got about half a mile away from the scene, I heard a gun shot, and felt a sense of peace like I have not felt in years. It reminded me of the last time I came eye to eye with a deer.

It was on my wedding day, March 31, 1996. I was on the way to Caesar’s Head, NC, to a spot called Pretty Place, a chapel that hangs on the side of the mountain, where my wedding was to be held. I spotted a deer in the curve of the mountain road, and slowed to a stop. It just looked me right dead in the eye, like a Native American blessing on my life and impending marriage.

It’s like Jakson once told me, “The animals know what’s going on. You can always trust the animals.”

Jak was right.

Keep it Real. Keep it Southern.

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