My Mom lives 1200 miles south of us.
The creatures snuffling through the backyard, lurking in dark corners, and crawling between the walls at midnight, are different than here.
Growing up in the northeast, I am very familiar with the animals I might encounter on a walk in the woods, driving down a country road, or working in the garden. I’m pretty sure none of them will kill me.
Florida is full of surprises to me.
Mom always greets me with a ‘to do’ list when I visit her. At 94 years old, she is still fiercely independent managing all the day to day details of her life, but saves the stuff my Dad used to do, for her kids.
Upon my arrival, after fortifying me with a delicious lunch, she and I went out to her tool shed to tidy up.
I began by removing all the junk that had accumulated and held up each piece for her deliberation.
Making this place ship-shape, was going to be a snap.
Underneath some sorry looking suitcases in the back corner, however, was a big black snake all coiled up like a hose, until I busted his cover, and probably ruined his ear drums, when I let out a piercing shriek, dropped the suitcase on his head and ran for cover.
My ever curious, little white tennis-shoed Momma, moved right in for a better look.
My Mom is cut from much tougher stuff than me, which is why she’s still alive and kicking.
It is very embarrassing to hide behind an elderly person. I’m not proud of it, and hopefully she won’t tell my siblings.
Anyway, this very sinister reptile, slithered away into the shrubbery, thank heavens, but I will never cavalierly volunteer for shed duty again.
I chucked everything back in there, and went on to job # 2.
A sickening odor was coming from the kitchen.
Now this stuff I have experience with: every winter a mouse or two dies in the wall behind our hall closet.
It is vile, but save chopping down the wall to exume the offending corpse, we avoid the hall closet.
We certainly don’t hang our guests coats there on a wintry night – the odor of their garment at the end of the evening would be tough to explain.
But in Florida where the temperature was like an oven, the smell was particularly nauseating.
Holding my breath, I opened all the cupboards searching for a body.
I was a tad worried about having to touch this thing and where I was going to dispose of it when I found it.
But alas, even in Florida, houses are built with crawl space highways for little creatures.
Something was dead behind the cabinetry.
Now I understand that ugly little phrase, “I smell a rat!”
Whoever said that must have lived in Florida.
The exterminator explained that this is the # one animal dying behind the walls of homes in Florida.
And to get to the rat, he’d have to saw through the wall……
I told him about the little snake incident.
He said black snakes are very nice snakes that like nothing better than to eat dirty rats.
My Mom has a tiny white fluff ball of a mutt that awakens me at dawn, anxious for his morning walk.
Her neighborhood is deserted at that hour, so I harnessed the pup and stumbled out in my jammies with my eyes just little peep holes.
At the end of her block, I was vexed by an inordinate amount of snuffling and thrashing in the shrubbery.
My heavens. I immediately imagined an alligator on the loose.
Would I hold little “Boodle” up as a peace offering or defend my mother’s beloved Bishon?
I backed off dragging the pooch with me.
Out from under the bushes come Mr and Mrs Armadillo, a pair of the strangest creatures God created.
I know nothing about them…. What’s with all that armor? Is living in Florida a battle?
Maybe they eat pajama – clad people … or little fluffy dogs…
I hope Jim never wants to move here.
I find it very stressful.