Our Wild Neighbors

Hubby D and I reside in what was once a Southern Illinois coal mining town. Now the town is best described as part of the Metropolitan St. Louis area. Realtors refer to our diverse neighborhood as desirable. I like that. Most of the homes represent an architectural mix of Tudor, Bungalow, Craftsman, Dutch Colonial, Cape Cod, Contemporary, Cottages, and Mid-century Ranch such as ours. We finished raising our five offspring here and over the years have watched a continual cycle of neighboring families grow from toddlers to teens and beyond.

We’ve also observed our share of wildlife come and go or maybe stay. The cardinals stay year round; the hummingbirds come in late spring and leave in early fall. Not sure about the yellow finches. They might winter here but their feathers lose that distinctive color.

We used to have rabbits until the neighborhood cats couldn’t control their natural instincts. Groundhogs were smart enough to wait until my tomatoes were ripe before eating half the flesh and leaving the other half for me. Thanks but no thanks. Deer have been known to wonder through our yard early in the morning or in the middle of the day. Or around ten at night when recently one stood five feet from our front door.

Mustn’t forget the foxes. Such beautiful creatures. This year a male came trotting down the street with a squirrel hanging from its mouth. Like all good fathers, he made a home for his family—in our next-door neighbor’s culvert. What a sight—dad, mom, and three kits frolicking in the grass, minding their business like all good neighbors.

For some years a family of lizards has been hanging out around our swimming pool but never in it. As to where they go in the winter, I don’t have a clue but they’re always back the following spring.

This year for the first time we had some unexpected wildlife. Frogs. Make that baby frogs, not much bigger than some bugs, neither of which are welcome in my pool. Most mornings around 5:15, before my usual fifty laps, will find me skimming the pool, this year removing anywhere between two and seven frogs each day. If they’re not doing their own laps, they’re sitting on the steps of the ladder or riding the chlorine tablets floaters. Out, neighbors or not, I want the damn creatures gone! Only when they are, do I take the plunge and begin my daily routine.

Yesterday, during lap number 30, a smooth non-stop backstroke with eyes closed to the sky above, I casually brushed one hand over my face to remove … what? Yikes! A baby frog, comfortably settled on my forehead. No point in screaming loud enough to wake up the neighbors. Instead, I scooped this uninvited neighbor out of the water and with one finger, flicked it away. When it didn’t move fast enough to suit me, I pushed a little harder. With that, my swim for the day came to an abrupt end.

Ah well. There’s always tomorrow.

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About Loretta Giacoletto

Loretta Giacoletto is an American writer of family sagas, mysteries, and contemporary fiction, all of which contain elements of crime. She divides her time between the St. Louis Metropolitan area and Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks where she writes fiction, essays, and her bi-monthly blog, Loretta on Life, while her husband Dominic cruises the waters for bass and crappie. Their five children have left the once chaotic nest but occasionally return for her to-die-for ravioli and roasted peppers topped with garlic-laden bagna càuda. An avid traveler, she has visited numerous countries in Europe and Asia but Italy remains her favorite, especially the area from where her family originates: the Piedmont region near the Italian Alps. - See more at: http://www.loretta-giacoletto.com
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