When we bought our house, we knew part of the charm was its proximity to nature. The neighborhood is lush with foliage and the mountains are practically in our backyard. However, where there is foliage, there are also animals. Lots and lots of animals.
Squirrels: I'm not ashamed to admit that the abundance of squirrels in the area was a huge selling point for us. We have two large trees in our front yard, which they use as their personal play things. We've seen them treat our pool as a watering hole, they bury nuts in our grass and are beyond funny when, during the heatwaves, they flop down on the tree branches with their little limbs hanging off either side. They're cute, cuddly and provide us with loads of entertainment without actually bothering us.
Birds: Okay, I know that most of you reading this aren't bird fans, but I am. I enjoy them and while we don't have a lot, we have enough to keep me happy. My personal favorite is the hummingbirds that are attracted to our Morning Glory plant in the backyard.
Bears: No, we haven't seen one yet. However, last summer there was documented instance of a very large bear that strolled down the street and into some driveways just a mile or so away from us. If I ever see this first-hand, in the words of Mr. Cosby, "first I'll say it, then I'll do it!" I'm cool with the squirrels drinking from our pool, but I'm not cool with a bear splashing around in it. You just gotta draw the line somewhere, you know?
Assorted Dogs and Cats: These don't technically count as part of "nature", but I run into a lot of them when I'm out "walking the earth" (as Jim likes to say) and they always put a smile on my face. That is, if they're not trying to bite my ankles....
Coyotes: Thankfully, we haven't seen them, but OMG, we've heard them alright! There are nights when they sound like they're just up the street from us. Our neighbor said that he has, in fact, seen them cruising down our street before and warned us to keep any small dogs and cats indoors in the evenings. Lovely.
Crickets: Sure, crickets seem harmless, but try sleeping at night when they're all rubbing their little legs together at the same time :/ We sleep with a fan for white noise, but even that didn't completely drown them out. But, the worst part? They're a freaking food source for...
The Down-Right Scary
Black Widows: Yeah, we had a TON of them outside our house. Crickets are like a buffet for them. We had a ton of crickets. You do the math. We kept seeing them in the same places and even after killing them, another would pop up in its place. One night, Jim went on a "hunt" to see how many were actually out there. He killed 18 and those were only the ones that he could catch before they skittered away. Ugh. Ugh. UGH! When the exterminator came out he was shocked! He sprays our next door neighbor's yard, but she doesn't have any. We, on the other hand, not only had black widows, but also brown widows! YAY! Thankfully, we've sprayed, they're gone for now and we've set up a bi-monthly regimen to keep them at bay. But still, so gross!
[Note: For those of you who have never seen a black widow and are wondering, "How do you actually know it's a black widow?" we wondered the same thing. Oh, but those little punks have this way of building their crazy ugly webs so that they hang upside down and you can see their bellies. They make it very clear what they are. I get all wigged out just thinking abou it.]
Bees: Sure they're nice when they're pollinating things and making honey, but after having been stung 3 times, I'm kind of not their biggest fans. So imagine my horror when I came home earlier this week and heard one of the trees in our front yard literally humming. I looked up and if there was one bee, there must have been at least a hundred. OMG! Can we stop with the icky creatures already?! I freaked out, obviously, but it seems as though they were swarming for the late afternoon and we thankfully haven't seen (or heard) them since. I'm still leery though. The next sign of them and the exterminator is so getting a call!
And that folks, are the benefits of living with Mother Nature as your next door neighbor! I know you're jealous ;)