Strange Animals

People, in general, are strange animals.

Many that I know – people that is – often lament about a lack of time and opportunity to enjoy the great out doors and appreciate the wonders of the natural world.

But really, who are we trying to kid?

We all love nature, but there are limits to our adoration, and terms to our esteem.

We like to be able to pick and choose exactly which aspects of nature we enjoy, and when faced with those characteristics that inconvenience us or make us feel uncomfortable, we set traps, spray poisons, brandish brooms and employ any other sure fire method that will obliterate whatever the offending life form happens to be.

Take the reptile in my garage, for example.

Just the other day I spotted a small black snake slithering across the concrete floor.  I gasped, and we both froze, waiting to see what the other would do next.

I immediately regretted gasping when my 11-year old son appeared; I feel strongly about letting my kids develop their own phobias rather than simply assuming mine.

Nick thought it was pretty cool to see a snake up close in his own garage, but expressed concern for his hockey bag that lay gaping open, a warm invitation not entirely unlike a musty hole in the ground.

As we clumsily “chased” the snake outside we joked about unwittingly introducing it into the pre-game mayhem of an arena change room filled with 11 and 12-year- old boys.  This comic relief was a light-hearted diversion at the time, but now, whenever I step into the garage, I glance nervously around, wondering…

The tranquil view out my kitchen window makes even the most tedious jobs in that room tolerable.  However, the same wooded area that provides the lovely view also produces countless insects.  From early spring until late fall, this window is a study in entomology, with many different species of insects in various stages of development coating the screen.

Although I don’t like them on my window, I am grateful for the work insects and other critters do to manage our food waste in our backyard composter.  (Flip…)

But… we are selective about who we will permit to feast on our food scraps.  (…Flop.)

When we first began to use the composter, we battled back yard adversaries whose efforts to get at our rotting morsels were more successful than ours to keep them away.

Even though we followed the directions precisely about appropriate compost contents, I could only imagine the cooperative efforts of our vegetarian yard-mates that handily destroyed the innovative obstructions employed by my husband to keep them out.

After several failed attempts, this man-on-a-mission spoke wryly of a make-shift guillotine, but settled instead on a barrier fashioned from wire, bolts and blocks.  Overkill (in the figurative sense) is a word that comes to mind, but this last contraption does the trick.

When I rest my head on these beautiful, warm autumn nights, I welcome the luxurious, fresh, cross-breeze my second story windows afford.

But soon, I am provided with yet another reminder that we can’t always choose which aspects of nature we enjoy.

The nose-stinging, eye watering smell of skunk has been wafting into our bedroom at predictably the same time each night; I struggle over which irritant I will choose to keep me awake – the stifling green house-type air when the window is closed, or the nauseating stench wafting in when it’s open.

Autumn is always particularly busy time for the sightings of interesting forms of “wildlife.”   A joke that has never been under-appreciated by anyone with whom it’s been shared, involves, unbelievably, a gaggle of wild turkeys in our backyard one Thanksgiving day.

As my family of four gathered together in front of the window, astounded by the presence of these creatures in our yard, I saw us as the family in any typical Thanksgiving story. This moment was one of amazement, wonder and awe, complete with a warm familial embrace and teary-eyed recognition of…

But, the moment was fouled by an abrupt end, as we were forced to contemplate a statement put forth unabashedly by our son.

“Wow”, said Nick.  “I guess that means the lawn is going to be covered in turkey- cra…   “

I quickly interrupted, trying to keep him from sullying the moment.

“Fertilizer!”  I said, looking on the bright side.  “Yes, Honey, I believe it’s a di-stink-t possibility.”