Column: St. Aidan Cemetery a beautiful place, but don’t hurry to get there

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Al Batt, Tales from Exit 22

Sixteen deer!

Sixteen deer ran across the road in front of my Pontiac.

And not a single one of them crossed the road by the &8220;Deer Crossing&8221; sign. &160;Evidently, they were not readers.

I was on my way to a defensive driving class.

I had taken driver’s training when I was 15 years old. &160;I owe my poor driver’s training teacher an endless supply of apologies.&160;It was the first time I had ever seen a grown man burst into tears. My driver’s training instructor’s entire body developed a lifelong twitch while attempting to place me and my cohorts safely behind a steering wheel.

The deer had chosen to cross my path not far from St. Aidan Cemetery. A place that my heart has a great fondness for.

I walk often at St. Aidan Cemetery. &160;I am frequently met with a silence that the song of a bird intensifies. &160;I walk among the leaning stones with surfaces worn smooth from the elements and time. &160;Inscriptions have become indefinite, causing some of the stones to project anonymity. The bygone struggling to keep from falling into oblivion.

The grave markers offer an eloquent memorial to the deceased. Many of those resting at the cemetery were born in Ireland. &160;Many were my friends and neighbors.

The graveyard is the scene of a million conversations of mourners. &160;I am reminded that we should not save the loving words for those we care about until after they are gone. &160;We should not be so concerned about what we write on the tombstones until we make sure we express our love and gratitude while they are still living.

Minnesota has a population of 4,919,479. &160;There are 3,526,041 licensed drivers in the state.

&160;Those drivers make use of 3,903,334 licensed vehicles on 131,000 miles of roads. &160;Compared to 30 years ago, there are about three times as many cars traveling on approximately the same amount of roads.

About 400,000 speeding tickets are issued each year. The minimum fine for speeding is $120. Our defensive driving course instructor told us that we should add five to stay alive. That means we should leave five minutes early. &160;We all know that rushing leads to stress and stress leads to anger. Anger is just one letter away from danger. &160;Stay cool. &160;I saw a bumper sticker the other day that read, &8220;If you don’t like my driving, don’t call anyone. Just take another road. &160;That’s why the highway department made so many of them.&8221;

Statistics show that a driver will be involved in a crash every 10 years. 42,500 people are killed each year in car crashes. &160;That’s one every 13 minutes. &160;There are approximately two deaths per day in Minnesota car accidents. &160;3.3 million people are injured each year in car crashes. Auto collisions cost $225 billion annually.

The defensive driving course was a good one.&160;As one who spends much of his time traversing anfractuous roads, I need reminders of what I should be doing.

I learned a lot during this class. &160;Nothing is supposed to hang from a rearview mirror. &160;It can result in a $70 fine. &160;Children under the age of 13 should be buckled in the backseat. &160;Because of airbags, a driver’s hands should be positioned at 9 and 3 or 8 and 4 o’clock on the steering wheel. &160;When you are skidding, turn the wheel in the direction you want your car to go. &160;Every 10 miles per hour you drive over 50 mph doubles the risk of death in a traffic crash. &160;Stay three seconds behind the car ahead of you. Three out of four people thrown from a vehicle die. &160;If two cars arrive at an unmarked intersection at the same time, the vehicle to the left is to yield to the vehicle to the right. &160;At a stoplight, stop far enough behind the car ahead of you so that you can see the pavement.

You are breaking the law if you cross a solid line on the right to pass a car making a left turn. &160;In the city, you must use your turn signal a minimum of 100 feet before the turn.

Driving is the most dangerous thing that most of us do.

Our automobiles don’t know what they are doing. &160;We have creative control.

But we don’t have control over deer.

St. Aidan Cemetery is a beautiful place, but don’t be in a hurry to get there.

Remember that you are hauling a precious commodity.

Safety belts increase our chance of surviving a crash by more than 50 percent.

Buckle up and slow down.

(Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns run on Wednesday and Sunday.)