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Eric took a drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains in October ... At one point, the highway suddenly narrowed, and the trees closed in on both sides. As Eric steered around a sharp bend, he suddenly encountered a deer in the middle of the road.

For a start, what does closed in try to come across as? Second, is it close in meaning to reword the line in bold as the following? Thanks.

When Eric drove round a sharp curve, he was suddenly met with a deer in the middle of the road.
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"closed in" - the trees were nearer the road and growing more densely together.

"...he suddenly met a deer... would be acceptable, but lacks the implication of suddenness and shock of coming round a corner and finding a large animal in your way.
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To my American ear, to meet (or meet with) a deeris totally absurd. When he met the deer did he shake hands with it and say, "How do you do. I'm pleased to meet you. I've never met a deer before."? Emotion: smile
To me, he noticed or saw or came upon the deer when he encountered it.

CJ
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Comments  
Feebs11"closed in" - the trees were nearer the road and growing more densely together.

"...he suddenly met a deer... would be acceptable, but lacks the implication of suddenness and shock of coming round a corner and finding a large animal in your way.
Thanks, Feebs, for the clear reply.

Got it.
 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
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