Saturday, April 26, 2008

Where the Wild Things Are

Key West - No, I'm not talking about the democratic primary or John McCain though things are getting pretty wild. Every day it's something else. I'm still ardently supporting Barack Obama (see my post of April 1). And with the Indiana and North Carolina primaries looming I've been obsessed. If I weren't working on a tight deadline I'd be in one of those states right now. Instead, I have very different Wild Things (forgive me, Maurice) in mind this morning. Key West is a small city and we live close to our neighbors on small lots so I've been surprised, to say the least, by some of our recent visitors....


Yes, this creature sometimes allows me to see him. Here he is at our outdoor dining table, right outside my study. Interesting, isn't he? So prehistoric!

I've been told that after iguanas eat they need to rest their bellies on a warm slab in order to digest. Concrete around a pool is a favorite choice on a sunny day. And once they've digested -- well, they're ready to poop. If you're lucky they'll let it out on the concrete, not in the pool (they love to swim). Not that I'm happy having to clean up iguana poo around the pool, but I'd be less happy if it landed in the water.

I know where "Iggy" lives. In a tree near the pool. And I know what he likes to eat. He's especially fond of a flowering vine climbing the wall outside my bedroom. I know he's got friends, too, because sometimes they congregate on the roof of our house. Not that I can resist watching when he's around but I've been warned he, like all iguanas, carry salmonella on their skin, so no touching!

Free Range

George parked the jeep at the post office in town and when he came back he found an egg on the seat. An egg! The post office is a favorite hang-out for local chickens. For those who don't know, chickens are protected in Key West. They're all over town. If I were a chicken I'd want to live here. So George found this egg in the jeep and knew it was unlikely that some passerby had dropped it there. This means while he was gone a chicken flew into the jeep (it's open) sat down, laid an egg, then left. George was pretty excited. He brought the egg home, refrigerated it, and meant to eat it right away. But by the time he got around to it a week had passed and without thinking he mixed it in with his scrambled eggs one Sunday morning. I kept waiting for something bad to happen. But nothing did. After all, it was truly an egg from a free range chicken.


We were awakened at 4:30 in the morning by screaming and splashing in the pool. Our bedroom is at one end of the pool and we sleep with the doors partly open. You know how it is when you're awakened from a deep sleep -- neither of us could figure out what was going on. But when we looked we saw what appeared to be two animals at the side of the pool, and another in it. They were screaming in distress. Pretty scary, actually. George ran for his camera but he's like one of those guys with a gun who keeps the gun locked in one place and the ammo locked in another. He finally managed to get his camera out of its zippered case but finding and attaching the flash was something else. Meantime, another of the animals either fell or jumped into the pool, trying to rescue the first. My initial reaction was, we have to save them! But at this point we didn't even knowwhat they were. By the time George got it together and stepped outside with his camera, the two who were poolside (by then only one was left struggling in the water) lumbered off, leaving just the one screaming swimmer.

When he finally made it out, George caught him on camera. Looks like he was in shock (the animal, not George). We put the picture up on the computer screen but it wasn't clear to us at 4:45am what it was. Wolverine? George asked. Do we have wolverines in Key West? We went online to check. No wolverines. But look at that face. Raccoons? Yes. there's a south Florida raccoon -- a smaller, blonder version of the kind we know so well from the northeast -- but these guys were neither smaller nor blonder. They were the real deal. If it hadn't been the wee hours I like to think we'd have spotted that striped tail from the get-go. Wet and bedraggled, here's our 4am swimmer!

All of this on a small, heavily populated island just 90 miles from Cuba.
xx Judy