Sunday, September 01, 2013

Nature at Your Door

Sometimes my husband and I get sentimental about the years we lived in Florida. We met down here as young reporters for The Tampa Tribune then married and moved north to raise our family. We'll wax nostalgic about gathering at beach hang outs and driving in my convertible or the charming houses in old St. Pete.
But nothing takes the curb off those fantasies like a visit to Florida in August. A morning run alone is enough to remind me why I never ran in Florida. The thermometer may say 70, but the sheer humidity turns a run into more of a swim.
Sandhill Cranes stalk the neighborhood yards.
After a run, I jump into the pool at Mom and Dad's house to cool off. I float on a raft talking to Mom while she sits at the side. I see her eyes move toward the end of the raft and when I turn my head, a little black frog jumps from the raft into the water.
"You were just going to let him jump on me and not tell me," I accuse her.
Along with frogs and fire ants, daytime dragon flies buzz past floating on the waves of heat. Fist-sized spiders build webs both inside and out.
Birds as big as me stalk through backyards and refuse to leave golf holes.
The day we took Spencer over to school in St. Petersburg, Mom had a run-in with a wasp nest inside the rolled up hose. The wasp sting swelled her hand and her entire arm.
Mom's stories alone should have reminded me that nature is just too close in Florida.
Last week, she told me about finding a snake in her garage after she had pulled her golf cart in. She's had snakes in the garage before and she was determined not to let this one hide somewhere. So she took a blunt-nosed shovel, a spade and dug it into the snake in the corner of the garage. But she wasn't strong enough to cut through it. Instead, she had to steadily increase the pressure of the spade as the snake wriggled trying to get free. Mom estimates the time at about 10 minutes before her spade finally hit the concrete of the garage floor.
Huge spiders build webs inside and out.
She pulled the dead snake out into the driveway for my dad to see when he got home from golfing. When he came home, she learned that the snake, which she figured for a non-poisonous water snake from the nearby lake, was actually a cottonmouth, also known as a water moccasin. Poisonous.
Later that same week, Mom told me about a trip to the emergency room because of another run-in with nature. This time, it was a beetle. On the golf course, she saw a beetle flying straight at her. She turned her head quickly and the bug flew straight into her ear. Instead of retreating though, the bug decided to persevere to the other side. It dug in. The pain became so great that Mom abandoned her golf game and called Dad to meet her at home. They went to the doctor, who sent them to the emergency room, who sent them to an Ear Nose and Throat specialist. As the bug dug into Mom's ear, blood spurted out covering her outer ear and the collar of her shirt.
The doctor said the bug was about dead by the time he finally squirted some antiseptic in there and extracted it.
So wasps, snakes, beetles, spiders, sand-hill cranes ("They will peck your eyes out," my mom warned when Earl scoffed at the big birds.), and we haven't even got to alligators, and someone here in Central Florida had a black bear in their front yard the other day.
If the heat isn't enough to remind me why I don't live in Florida, the wildlife is. I miss my parents and now my son in college who stay in Florida throughout the year, but I'll take Ohio with its tamer outdoor creatures.


Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Sometimes I also think nostalgically of places I once lived...and realize that my youth had a lot to do with why I enjoyed those places. Reality kicks in when we're older, reminding us of other things.

Loved your stories. Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

Lee I said...

I think my instincts in never wanting to go to Florida are right. Even the picture of the spider is scary enough to keep me away.

Just Me said...

Thank you for all the ammunition I need to avoid Florida. The humidity alone is enough but wow....

Just Me said...

Had nightmares about the fire ants, snakes and beetles in the ear. Your mother is a real trooper.

Marguerite Buxton said...

Wow my little insects and crawlies here in France are bad enough, but that Spider...I would move area straight away.. :-)

Sheila said...

Holy crap, those stories are ridiculous. It's a wonder anyone gets out of that state alive! :)

Plami said...

This is beautiful! I wish I had this view!

Following your great blog!


Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) said...

As much as I'd like to move to a warmer climate, the humidity would probably do me in. Now I see the large bugs might get me first. Battling snakes in the garage? Your mom is brave!

Linda said...

I don't know Florida at all but I think I'll leave it that way.

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