Where the Wild Things Are

Back when I used to rent my house, this was the time of year I came face to face with all sorts of interesting characters: a church group who held Sunday morning hootenannnies on the front porch, a compulsive sweeper, a lawyer with a thing for my Black & Decker weed wacker, and an antique dealer who looked like Stevie Nicks and who swore up and down there were snakes in the ceiling.

I didn’t have snakes in the ceiling. A couple of oil paintings nailed over some holes where light fixtures had been removed in previous decades, but definitely no snakes.

Yes, a lot has transpired in my little cottage over the years, but I’ve never seen anything like this…

It began about a month ago with the moths. Not the kind that eat your cashmere sweaters and get into the French milled flour stock. And most certainly not the small Psychodidae you sometimes see around kitchen and bathroom drains and that turn to powder when you crush them. These were big luscious gray moths found hiding on the backside of an aqua colored shower curtain from Bergdorf’s and inside the cheetah-trimmed burlap chandelier shades. Luckily, I was able to shake and shoo them out of the bathroom before they caused any damage.

Next came the crickets; a hundred strong and traveling east to west across the living room floor one Sunday night during an episode of Brothers & Sisters. I put down my glass of wine and grabbed a Chinese cricket cage to try and tempt a few to stay. It brings good luck, you know, the cricket. My effort was in vain. They were just passing through.

After the crickets, the ants arrived. Just a few on a sticky sugar spoon left out on the counter. They were easy to get rid of, but I’m keeping my eyes peeled. A good friend recently arrived back after spending way too much time in Fort Liquordale found his Mercedes convertible crawling with ants. Thousands of ‘em, he said, running up and down the dashboard. So many he had to set off a bug bomb. Even his moped was infested. When he started it up they came pouring out of the throttle.

Then he found a snakeskin on the pool pump. Thought it was a Dolce & Gabbana belt, but it wasn’t.

Back at my house, you’re not going to believe what was spotted in my rose garden: a pair of red foxes. Not the mangy kind occasionally seen running around Rehoboth, but handsome ones of Middleburg quality. Like those in the classic fox hunting print pursued by hounds and red-jacketed men on horseback.

The red fox, you might not know, is rather common in this region and frequently observed out on hunting forays in the spring. They’re solitary animals, so seeing two together was quite rare. They paused for a while in the rose garden before continuing on their way.

Foxes aren’t the only ones enjoying my garden. Just the other day, I spotted a small possum among the boxwoods up on its back feet sipping delicately out of the birdbath. A raccoon rambled by too.

Then there’s the skunk…

While I do enjoy the faint whiff of skunk on a summer night, I don’t particularly like one loitering around the neighborhood. This particular skunk is trim, healthy looking, and walks in a very determined manner. A neighbor was hanging his wash on the clothesline one morning when the skunk appeared, tail raised and stomping his feet. My neighbor dropped the laundry on the ground and fled.

The determined skunk has been seen in my rose garden and at the composter. He’s been spotted over across the street pawing for grubs in the neighbor’s croquet lawn. If you’re thinking skunks only come out during the day when they’re rabid, you are wrong. It’s a myth. Skunks actually are crepuscular, which means they come out around dusk and dawn in search of food.

Yes, it’s wild over here on Columbia Avenue and the summer has just begun. All I have to say is good. Let the wild rumpus start!

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