I don't know how to describe the area in which we live. People ask if it's suburban. No - not in the traditional sense. And it's far from urban. I start to say rural but that's not accurate either. Yes, we're isolated but we have neighbors. And they're not farmers. So it's somewhere between suburban and rural. It's subrural. Or rurburban. It's like Knots Landing with trees. All I know is that I can't get Thai food on the way home. And that there is a lot of wildlife. I am a big fan of wildlife. I like big trees and paths through the woods. I like sitting quietly on the banks of pretty much anything. The title of my master's thesis was 'An Examination of the Environmental Content in the Illustrations of Caldecott Award Winning Books from 1970-1990: For the Environmental Education Classroom.' Snap.
But I'm learning that I would rather visit my wildlife than live with it. I'm a little Eva Gabor-esque (or was it Zsa Zsa? Either way, New York is where she'd rather be). It started with a run-in with a mouse who built a nest in our basement and liked to visit us at dinnertime. Have you ever seen a woman with a broken foot jump on a chair? It's pure instinct, baby. As was muttering "You fu*@er!" .......like I would offend him and he would leave. Then there was a rabid-looking fox that traipsed across our driveway, wild turkeys who made us wait while they crossed the street and a deer who wasn't sure who had the right of way (Go ahead. No - you go. No, really - I insist. You go.). And a slug as big as a banana. No lie. No wonder my hostas look like shit.
The other day, Liam said he saw one scary thing and one cute thing. The cute thing was a frog and the scary thing was a snake. And I looked at him calmly and I listened but I couldn't hear a word he said because I was fighting to keep my body still and my face neutral so that I wouldn't RUN! I wanted to find the nearest chair and jump on it! I wanted to scream like a girl! But I worked hard to stave off the virtual plethora of negative messages that would send...... including "Mama is a sissy." The street here is littered with squashed snakes and frogs so I knew it was coming. I should have practiced. I should have done some practice snake sightings or........no, I can't. I would just run from the practice snake.
The chipmunks are like pets and they're numbers negate their cuteness. They grab a snack from my garden and sit confidently by my side and munch. Like "How are ya? Good nasturtiums today, huh?" THEY DO NOT SCURRY AWAY! Who ever heard of a chipmunk that didn't SCURRY? From my living room couch, I watched what I thought was a badger waddle to his home under my deck. Which Mike thought was hilarious - because it was a woodchuck. I still don't know why that's funny. Maybe it's only funny to people who who grew up with badgers (or woodchucks or whatever) in their backyards.
Now Mike is talking about guns. What he calls "a sweet new air rifle." And I'm like "WE ARE NOT THOSE PEOPLE!"
One night eating dinner on our deck, a deer mouse approached us to see if we had anything to share. He was shy. He'd pop up on the deck, approach us, and pop out of sight at the clank of a fork. Then he'd repeat the sequence. Over and over again. And he was cute. Straight out of a Disney movie. But I could not RELAX! One eye on my plate, one eye on the spot where he magically appears. I kept wondering if he would magically appear on the table........or in my pant leg.
And I haven't even mentioned the fisher cats. Neighbors have warned me about these mysterious fisher cats who cry like children in the night. This animal is NOT a cat......but no one can tell me exactly what it is! So my imagination is left to create some mutant platypus with fangs that stares in my windows.
Then Mike tells me he saw an animal crawl under our deck that looked like an oversized squirrel with a long, skinny snout (keep it together, KEEP IT TOGETHER!). So we google "fisher cats" to confirm our fisher cat sighting. But that was not it! The picture did not match! So now I have 2 mutant animals to worry about! The platypus with fangs and the giant squirrel with a long, skinny snout! This creeps me out like a big black snake in the toilet (and don't you DARE tell me that happened to you!).
I'll be honest........I've become a bit skitterish. I feel like the unwanted girlfriend in The Parent Trap (Hayley Mills, not Lindsey Lohan) who tiptoes through the woods clacking two sticks together to keep nonexistent mountain lions away. My reactions to various stimuli are a bit.....hmmmm......exaggerated. I hear the dishwasher and I jump. Recently, a craisin from my salad fell off my fork and skittered across my plate and Mike had to peel me off the ceiling. In a restaurant, no less ("Just a craisin, people! Just a craisin!"). On another occasion, I threw some garbage in our overflowing garbage can and inadvertently pushed a piece of wadded up packaging tape over the side....... and it rolled across the top of my foot. I dropped the garbage and ran. I ran and I screamed "MIKE NOONAN! MIKE NOONAN!" Mike Noonan was sitting on the toilet at the time. But my safety comes first so he rallied. And when he saved me from the wadded up packaging tape, he was not happy. And I was more than a little humiliated.
I've called the Orkin man 3 times to describe the different sounds I hear in my ceiling. It's like he's my sponsor or something.
So I've got to get my sh*t together. Yesterday, I was in the yard alone and I heard something in the woods. Walking. Probably watching me. Oh my god, does it bite? But then a deer quietly steps into my yard and looks right at me. It is not scared. It doesn't turn and run away from me. Which pisses me off! Even though it was cute. But this is not how this works! So I straighten up and I look at that really cute deer and I say "HEY! This is MY yard! Just in case you were confused."