Every once in a while it helps to get away from the city. Some fresh air, a little communing with nature--a trip to the folks' house on Great Sacandaga Lake in upstate New York for the Fourth of July, perhaps?

Yes. We packed our bathing suits on Thursday and left after work, visions of blue water and green mountains (or something like that) dancing in our heads. It's an eight-hour drive from Washington to Sacandaga, and we thought we would avoid the holiday traffic by leaving early.

This put us on the New York Thruway at about 3:30 a.m. Friday. It was the day before the Fourth of July weekend, and not a creature was stirring, not even . . .

Actually, a mouse would have been nice.

The doe was killed instantly. None of us in the car was injured. Janet, my fiance' and the owner of the car, woke up in time to see a body bouncing up over the hood, and for a moment thought I had hit a person. She remembers thinking that I was going straight to jail.

Jail may have been simpler. There are many things to be said for sitting in a disabled Volkswagen Scirocco on the New York Thruway at 4 in the morning, waiting for the police, and for the 30-mile tow to the nearest VW dealer, the two-mile walk to the nearest car rental place and the indescribable pleasure of acting as go-between for a Virginia-based insurance company and a repair shop 500 miles away. We will, of course, say none of those things at this time.

We had such a nice time that weekend that we'll be going back any day now.

To pick up the car.