I’m not a huge fan of things that creep and crawl. That may come from the memories of my dad chasing me around the house with the dead spiders he killed for me (thanks, Dad!) But so far, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of not being squeamish on this trip. I may in fact be the next female Jack Hanna with all the wildfire I’ve calmly encountered lately. Let’s peruse the list, shall we?

1. Grasshoppers: In droves. We’ve already talked about this one though.

2. Spiders: In Montana, I was getting into the shower when I noticed something large and brown making a bee-line for me. It was a spider the size of my face. There’s a chance it was a wee bit smaller than my face, but still…it was large and in charge. However, with the speed and resolve of Cool Hand Luke, I turned on the water and used several handfulls of water the wash him down the drain. And then a few minutes of running water to make sure he wouldn’t come back with a vengeance when I was rinsing out conditioner.

There was even a spider to whom I didn’t give an immediate death sentence. Impressive, because I believe her last appearance was a starring role in Arachnophobia.

Mercy was due mostly to the fact that I didn’t want to get within 5 feet of her.

2. Birds: Birds, you ask? The sweet harbingers of morning? What could possibly be unsettling about birds?

There was a time when I would have asked the same questions. But now, I know the truth. The truth of the circle of life. Before you start conjuring up pictures of Simba and Rafiki on a mountaintop in Africa, let me paint a different scenario for you:

Recently, Boots has taken to dominating the surrounding animal kingdom. To the tune of four birds, two snakes and one mouse. If she can bring home three of something we’d be well on our way to a 12 Days of Christmas style tune.

4. Snakes: It should be obvious why there are no pictures here. This is because I am in the process of running in the opposite direction and have no time to pause for a photo shoot. Aside from the original run-in on the bike path, the presents from Boots, and the roadway dwellers I’ve encountered on runs, I also had one particularly disheartening experience here at the house. I was just sitting in the garden, innocently reading a magazine, when a big fat snake about half my height wiggled by under my feet. I waited with literal bated breath for him to pass so I could bolt, when ANOTHER snake followed right behind in his slithery path! When I was conscious again, I booked it inside, proud of myself that I held it together fairly well.

And then Boots bursted out from the bushes. Screaming and jumping commenced.

I’m hoping to keep the rest of the wildlife encounters to a low from here on out. I’m not all that interested in having a Sunday morning television show documenting my animal adventures.

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