As a kid growing up just outside of Washington, D.C, I was mesmerized by the local deer. We lived in a wooded area of northern Virginia, just a stone's throw from the city. I used to scan everywhere for those secretive deer because I was drawn to their quiet mystery. We'd catch glimpses of them in the woods, often just their white tails by the side of the road, trotting away from our headlights.
While in Louisiana, I lived in New Orleans, so my wildlife was more human than otherwise. I was struck by the enormous size of the cockroaches and the gators. This was my first brush with gators living so close to human homes. And as far as cockroaches, I distinctly remember walking through the French Quarter one night after listening to music with friends and coming head on with a very large roach. I looked closer (liquid courage on board) and it suddenly reared up at me. Yes, reared up! Terrors confirmed, I gave it a wide berth.
Florida is home to so many different kinds of exotic and amazing creatures. There was the peacock that lived by the canal near our house; the same canal where we occasionally saw alligators. There were snakes, both in stores and wild ones. Large, colorful spiders, commonly known as banana spiders, love the dense Florida brush. On our way to the Keys, we were lucky enough to see the highly endangered Key Deer (a tiny class of deer found on only a specific Key). We saw iguanas and turtles pretty often. One evening, while driving across Florida from the west coast through the Everglades, we had a truly scary experience. T was still a young child, just past toddling stage. We decided to take a quick leg-stretching break at a picnic site just off the road at a canal. The picnic area was protected by knee-high stone walls at the water's edge. We stood looking at the water as the sun was setting and I was struck by the many shadows on the water. Having grown up in Florida, Matt knew better. He grabbed a flashlight from the car and shown it out over the "shadows". About 12 pairs of alligator eye shine stared back at us. I startled, but having lived in Florida for a few years, I wasn't shocked. What was surprising, was that over the next 10 minutes or so, the eye shines that were a good 50 yards away at first glance, had been advancing silently, slowly towards us. Matt shined the flashlight again and the gators were no more than 20 yards away and closing. We decided to take our toddler "snack" and get the hell out of there!
Maine was far less dramatic in the wildlife department. We had a run in with a skunk or two, saw a few foxes, and a beautiful coyote family. Sadly, we saw no bears, or wild moose. Cold weather cut the available animals down quite a bit. I hoped to see a wolf, but never got the chance - I hear wolf re-introduction is possible in northern Maine. Fingers crossed!
I never imagined that Texas would provide so much wildlife exposure. Since living here, we've seen a tremendous number of wild creatures. We live in a fairly urban suburb of Dallas, between Dallas and Fort Worth. We hear nightly coyote calls from the resident pack that lives behind our home. There's a walking path next to a creek and across the creek lies thick brush-covered land. Nearby is the DFW airport property - miles and miles of wild miles. The coyotes are frequent walking path travelers, coming to and from their open spaces. Just a year ago, we discovered a resident bobcat. We've only seen him a couple of times, but what an amazing animal! He's walked right past us while we had the girls about 10 feet away, and on one occasion, actually dropped down in a stalking stance at Miss Arwen (silly kitty). One evening, I saw it toying with a rat before disappearing into the brush only about 20 yards away from my balcony. I've also seen vultures, turtles, snakes, hawks, deer, a tarantula, a nutria, and a fox. Who would've thought that so much wildlife could thrive in such a hot, dry place! I'm glad for it, but I hadn't expected it.
|Red Tail hawk - caught from my passenger side door eating a rabbit|
|Bobcat at dusk, toying with a rat captured from my balcony.|