In the dark places around my home there are creatures that lurk in the shadows. They make noises, unnerving noises, when they scratch and chitter under the floorboards.
No, I am not going to tell you another scary story. I’m not because what I have said isn’t true. There are actual creatures around and under my home.
One night, a couple of years ago, I woke up and heard scratching noises. I was alarmed because the first thing I thought was that I might have mice. Then I listened more carefully. The noises I heard were not coming from inside my bedroom. They were coming from the floor. There was something underneath the building.
A few days later, I discovered that another tenant or maybe the landlord and put out a metal cage trap in front of the crawl space of our building. I never did find out what, if anything, was caught.
Years ago, when I moved in to my apartment building, you would see around the neighborhood the occasional squirrel or rat in the heavily foliaged places. Not so anymore. First the opossums ran out the squirrels. Next came the raccoons which have become big, bad-tempered nuisances. Until recently a family of them lived in the storm drain right outside my front door and from time-to-time we scared the bejeezus out one another when we would encountered each other in our comings and goings.
One night, a not-so-pleasant smell came wafting through my windows. I knew immediately what it was and it was confirmed a couple of mornings later when I walked out and saw a skunk race across the street — again from the storm drain. (I guess the skunk evicted the raccoon family).
Finally, one morning last summer when we had record breaking heat, I went out on my front porch about 5:30 in the morning to catch a breath of cooler air. I saw something trotting down the sidewalk towards me. When it got in front of me, a mere ten feet or so, I was astonished at what a saw. There was no mistaking the bushy tail, lanky legs, pointy ears and snout. A coyote!
You have to understand why living in such a Wild Kingdom seems to strange to me. I live in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. When I was a kid you did not see creatures like this. And it is not only night creatures. In the daylight, it is not unusual to see pelicans, egrets, cormorants and the like living in whatever open wet areas they can find — parks, golf courses, canals, ponds, and creeks. I have seen red-tailed hawks hovering on the updrafts on the sides of office buildings.
The most inspiring and indeed the most unusual creatures I have witnessed lately are arrows of Canada geese flying in formation. Canada geese! Here? They are not indigenous to my area — or at least they haven’t been in my lifetime. I see them flying in the same direction at about the same time every morning. I wonder if they are following some invisible magnetic lines in the earth and I wonder what they see that I don’t.
So what is my point in telling you this? It is this: we are constantly being told that our world is in peril. Don’t get me wrong: it is and we need to do something about it. But what if we can’t or don’t? I honestly think mother nature will be able to cope in the long run. If you had asked me just ten years ago if I thought I would ever see such a parade of wildlife around and under my home in the middle of an urban area, I would have brushed you off. But nature is coming back to claim her own. She has been hiding in the dark places, in the shadows, for such a time as this. Life will not be pushed aside. It will survive and flourish with or without our help.
Life will find a way.
ljg (c) 2013