We gnomes stay away from roads, as a rule, but there are so many roads now that sometimes we have to cross them, or walk parallel to them, to get from one wooded place to another.

I'm sure you have never seen a roadkilled gnome. We're too smart to let ourselves get hit or run over.

The worst thing that happens to us on roadsides is that sometimes we get hit by Budweiser cans and McDonald's wrappers that motorists throw our of their car windows.

Cars take a terrible toll on our fellow creatures of the outdoors -- the "envarmints," as we fondly call them. It's reasonable to assume that cars and trucks kill as many animals as all the Indian hunters on the continent used to kill to feed their families.

"I'm sure you have never seen a roadkilled gnome. We're too smart to let ourselves get hit or run over."

You might have noticed that raccoons, possums and deer are the most numerous roadkill victims. That's because of the way they live and travel. Roads invariably cut through their foraging, hunting and grazing habitat.

It has been suggested that the reason a possum crosses the road is just to see if it's a possibility to get to the other side alive. That's not it. Possums don't have moving eyeballs and have to move their heads to get peripheral vision. A big disadvantage when crossing roads.

Many birds get killed on the road, and sometimes you'll see crows snacking on roadkill. But you hardly ever see a crow itself as roadkill. That's because they have an organized warning system: when crows are feeding on the berm, they post a sentry crow in a nearby tree, and when he sees an automobile coming, he cries, "CAR! CARRRR!" You've probably heard them.

Last weekend, my wife and I (yes, gnomes get married, too) walked along a country road, taking some blackberry cobbler to the home of a gnome gneighbor. We saw a terrible sight:

A dead mother possum lay on the road, swarmed by flies, and around her lay six baby possums, also dead, hardly much bigger than mice. A whole family wiped out by one car, apparently. I wondered how one wheel could unerringly kill them all, until my wife reminded me that at this season, Mrs. Possum would have been carrying them all in her marsupial pouch.

Returning home from the gneighbor's, I got a spade and dug a grave in the woods nearby, said a gnomic prayer and buried her, curled up in that familiar dead possum pose, with her six babies at her underside, and set a big, flat rock on the grave to discourage exhumation by other envarmints.

We gnomes are too smart to chase cars and snap at their tires. But sometimes I feel like it.

Gnome de Plume can be reached through .