"Crossin' the highway late last night
"He shoulda looked left and he shoulda looked right
"He didn't see the station wagon car
"The skunk got squashed and there you are
"Dead skunk in the middle of the road."
-- Loudin Wainwright III
He never stood a chance. He never saw it coming. He died on impact. He died in the middle of the road. My wife and I were driving to Branson on Route 86 one early summer afternoon when, as I topped a small hill, there was a large owl feasting on a dead armadillo who had picked the wrong crossing earlier that day. The owl had swooped down for a taste and apparently decided to dine in instead of taking it to go. Traveling at 60 miles per hour there was little time to miss the owl who was engrossed with his meal. Bam! He was the second victim of being in the middle of the road that day. A pattern was emerging. I started following the leads. I was on to something. Something big.
A report in the Indianapolis Star was the next link. The headline said it all: "Remains of seven found in grave in the middle of the road." It seems when the road crew was working on widening East 400 South near Amity, Ind., when they found the grave of one Nancy Kerlin Barnett, an early pioneer settler of the area, who died in 1831. Apparently six of her kin folks later joined her in that final resting place until uncovered by said road crew in, you guessed it, the middle of the road. A coincidence, you say? There would be more.
My friend Steve who lives in Tucson, Ariz., received the following update on his Nextdoor app: "Just a head's up to those of you walking with dogs around Campus Farm. There is a dead Colorado toad in the middle of the street, Vine Street just south of Roger Road. Toxins secreted by several glands on the toad's body are very dangerous to animals and even humans. A single lick or bite can kill a dog." Again, that deadly middle had struck again. Owls, pioneer women, Colorado toads and probably some curious assorted dogs living close to Vine Street in Tucson; the body count was building and building fast. I knew I was close. My readers deserved the truth.
Next, I found a report about a small village near London called Soulbury where there is a large rock literally in the middle-of-the-road that runs through the town and is known as the Soulbury Stone. "It's about the size of an armchair," according to their local transportation head, Mark Shaw, quoted in PRI's The World. "So, it's quite sizeable, about 3 feet by 4 feet. So, it's quite easy to see and quite a sizable feature." After a recent car accident, Shaw was asked if the town would move the stone. "That's lunacy. That stone has been here for some 11,000 years. To think of moving it would be absolute madness." Madness indeed. Simply put, to drive down the middle of the road in Soulbury will literally kill you. Forget the DaVinci Code, that stone had cracked the case. That owl did not die in vain.
Webster defines middle of the road as a course of action or a standpoint midway between extremes, being neither liberal nor conservative in politics. The early philosophers praised moderation. Aristotle said, "Moderation in all things." The Greek poet Hesiod wrote: "Observe due measure; moderation is best in all things," and the Roman comic dramatist Plautus said, "Moderation in all things is the best policy." Boy, were these guys all wrong! My research had clearly shown that such middle-of-the-road thinking will get you in an early grave next to one Nancy Kerlin Barnett or stone-cold dead in Soulbury.
So, as we head into this coming political season of either being on the far left or the far right (or as we would say, just using common-sense) and some simple-minded person suggests that you take a more moderate position, you just look them in the eye and say with your best moderate voice: "Over my dead body."
NAN Our Town on 05/30/2019