There have been a few surprises since moving south. Some have left me with my heart in my mouth, others have made me chuckle; still others have left me with a feeling of wonder. At all times, however, I've been left with the certainty that critters of all sorts like nothing half so well as a good laugh at my expense.
There's the heart attack frog, for instance, whom I first met when I was going to get bottled water from the spare refrigerator, which is located in a shed/workshop outside of the house. H.A.Frog had plastered him or herself on the window; fortunately for me, for our first meeting Le Ribbett had gathered it's limbs together in a neat little bundle, like this:
Subsequent meetings found the little croaker splayed across and pressing against the window like a tired old hussy trying to rustle up a drink. Well, except for the time it crashed into, and clung onto, the window right beside where I was sitting, prompting an impromptu run to the bathroom...
Then we have the ever-popular George and friends (with various and sundry permutations of the name),
one of whom, who should have more properly been named Georgina, chose to move into the house and become our resident pest control and pet. One often sees her darting busily up and down walls in search of an insect dinner. She has also proved herself both remarkably fecund and agile by giving birth (being a live-bearer rather than an egg-layer) on the ceiling above my head. I might have carried on through life happily ignorant of this momentous event, if Georgina hadn't arranged for some of what I assumed was amniotic fluid to drip on my head.
I heard her snicker as she scampered off.
Being in the southern part of Florida during the summer means you see rain. Lots of rain. Lots of rain means there are unhappy and hungry reptiles about; the long, slithery kind. On yet another hot night, when I'd stepped out to fetch water from the other refrigerator, I came face to face with uncertain long and slithery death. Well, foot to face. If I'd gone down the steps and to the shed door. Which I didn't, because I noticed a long, skinny, moving and hissing stretch of ill-tempered snake banded in red, yellow and black stretched out in front of the shed door.
It was dark outside, with only a rather dim outside light to see by, so I levitated backward into the house and quickly slammed the door. Of course there is a rhyme to help one differentiate between a real and a false coral snake, and I could remember it? That's right, other than gibbering "snake, snake, SNAKE " my mind wasn't functioning. Snakes don't usually frighten me, I'd often take one or two to my mother as a gift when I was a child, but a far too close encounter with a rattlesnake when I was in my early teens persuaded me that caution where poisonous creatures were concerned was the course of wisdom. Fortunately, the park's owner was able to safely wrangle the snake, identify it as non-venomous, and released it somewhere a bit more removed from human habitation. The frog, the myriad Georges, and I were all quite happy with that solution. The snake stuck out it's tongue and sneered at me as it slithered into the wild.
And then there's the feathered joker that kept me puzzled for days as I tried to figure out where the duck with the obnoxious quack was hiding. After a little sleuthing and a bit of research I realized: If it quacks like a duck it may well be a Northern mockingbird! They're lovely birds about the size of a cardinal or blue jay, with a beautiful voice and are quite talented mimics who can memorize up to 200 songs and sounds. I'm sure it had a good laugh or three as it quacked at me! At least it wasn't imitating a car alarm, as they are wont to do.
Enjoy a bit of the mockingbird's song: