Here in Connecticut, they have a lot of animals running about. Usually the biggest problem is keeping your pet from getting skunked, and figuring out how to secure the garbage cans in such a way that the raccoons cannot get at the trash contained within. Many an hour has been spent building wooden hutches for the cans, or setting up elaborate bungee cord/rope/rock contraptions to keep the lids on and the animals out of the trash - but no matter which strategy you choose, even the most highly engineered deterrents don't work. My latest attempt involved a bungee cord and a beach chair, tied to the top of a trash can who's lid had been inverted. It was so complicated that I had trouble opening it to put the trash inside each night. And those little bastards still got into the bag of chicken wings all the way at the bottom of the barrel. Assholes.
But this summer, it has been.......more than that. I don't know why, I don't know if animals are being so squeezed out of their natural habitats and are migrating to my family's neighborhood or what - but my first hint that something was amiss came the afternoon that I drove up to the house, and a coyote or some other coyote-like animal was standing in my driveway.
Glaring at me.
It's very unsettling to have an animal that most closely resembles a small gray dog stand facing your approaching car, and looking like he was going to go all honey badger on the front grill. I call him a coyote, but he could have been a rabid dingo for all I know - if it's not a mongoose I am completely uable to identify any animal without the aide of a zookeeper, a tour guide or some excellent signage that includes photos. But I know this: there is absolutely NO WAY IN HELL that I am going to have a dingo taking my babies, so I did what any mother would do. I backed the car up, put it back in drive, and gunned it. The beast had enough commoon sense to recognize another member of the honey badger family, and he moved slightly to the left to let me by. Then he started to trot down the driveway, following us towards the house. Oh, hell no. I slammed on the brakes, revved the engine, and threw it into reverse. The tires caught the gravel and spun as they gained traction and speed, and we careened backwards. I stared him down out of the rear window as we approached much more quickly than anyone had anticipated. But I was not going to slow down - I had to make a point.
I think he actually shit himself as he ran off into the bushes.
But still, he's out there somewhere, along with another unlikely predator - wild turkeys.
I had heard talk about wild turkeys in the yard, and we were keeping an eye out. But almost a week had passed, and we hadn't heard so much as a "gobble". We may have been listening for the wrong thing, however. In real life, turkeys don't really gobble. I was lying in bed one night, sound asleep, and suddenly right outside my window there arose a commotion the likes of which I had never heard before.
I sat straight up and reached for the light. Fumbling in the dark, the noise was getting - if possible - louder.
I gave up on trying to turn on the lamp, and just stuck my head straight out the window to see what the hell was going on out there.I blinked and rubbed my eyes and squinted. There was something in the yard. Actually, several somethings. Actually, quite a few somethings. But what the fuck were they?
Three of the whatever-the-hell-they-weres were larger than my 6 year old. And then there were a bunch of smaller animals, sort of similarly shaped, but what the heck were they? And then, I realized.
Wild fucking turkeys.
Sweet Jesus. The biggest one was the size of a trash barrel, and the whole pack (flock?) was jabbering away about.....something. So I grabbed a flashlight I found next to the lamp, and shined it directly on them. They scattered and headed for the driveway, complaining the whole way. Eventually, the noise faded, and I fell back asleep. A few hours later, something happened that was SO FUCKED UP that I still haven't been able to sleep through the night without a handful of Tylenol PMs.
There was a breeze from the window carrying the salty ocean air into my room, and I had dozed off clutching my flashlight. Suddenly, I was woken up by a combination of things that came together in one perfect moment of terror. All at once, there was this horrible noise and a huge weight on my head and a terrific crash.
I screamed and threw myself out of bed and across the room, grabbing at whatever was on my head with the intention of throwing it as fast and as far as I could. But it was already gone. The noise continued unabated. I was absolutely hysterical, in a dark room, with no idea what was going on.
"WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?!" It took me a minute to realize that I was the one shouting. I yanked open the bedroom door and threw on the hallway light. Two eyes glowed at me from the windowsill.
My aunt's cat was trying to throw herself through the screen, to get to the wild turkeys that were once again gathered outside my bedroom window. I stood very still for a moment and did a little self-assessment. No blood, no injuries, nothing in my room but the cat. The lamp from the bedside table was overturned, but it wasn't broken. And most importantly, I hadn't pissed my pants.
I spent the rest of the night locked in the bathroom with the light on, reading old issues of Real Simple and trying to get the adrenaline out of my system.
The next morning dawned and I was a total mess. By about 4pm, I realized that we needed coffee if I was going to make it to dinnertime without passing out face first in the living room during the evening news. We got in the car and headed down to the Big Y. As we pulled in, the kids were pressed against the window, watching soe excitement in the parking lot. Two men with nets and boxes were standing in the parking lot, watching something. A woman was taking pictures with her phone. As we got closser, I realized the object they were fixed on was a snake.
Fuck. That. Shit.
This may come as a shock to you, but I am not Steve Irwin. I am not interested in having any up-close encounters with wildlife unless they are behind a lot of glass, or perhaps locked in a cage or contained by a tall fence. Or stuffed. I can handle them stuffed. But since arriving I have had my fill of nature. I have faced coyotes glaring at me in my own driveway, deer eating the garden, raccoons eating, well, everything, skunks and wild turkeys and rabbits in the yard....but I will not have snakes in the parking lot I WILL NOT HAVE IT.
And so we returned home empty-handed. I watch them oh-so-carefully when they are playing outdoors. And then when they come in, oh baby. The hunt for ticks alone can ruin a perfectly good dinner. This place is hell for my anxiety, but frankly, I think my OCD is giving me an edge. I mean, sure I'm in a fucking blind panic every minute of the day....but I am also taking action, combing through hair, shaking out clothes, inspecting them head to toe before AND after the shower. My poor 10 year old son would really appreciate it if I would lighten up, and stop making him check his balls for insects. But I think he should just be grateful I let him do it himself.
10 hours ago