When I went out to check the mailbox Saturday afternoon I encountered this guy.
He might be the largest, most beautiful grasshopper I’ve ever spoken with; although, I think he might be injured. He didn’t even attempt to hop away when I closed in on him. I moved him to the shade, so maybe he can recuperate. At least he’ll be less of a target for birds there.
Here we are, staying in place, trying our best to keep the corona virus from finding us. In my sci-fi addled brain, COVID-19 is a monster lurking in the internal organs of some stranger’s infected body, awaiting an opening, perhaps a sneeze or a cough, to propel him into the next host.
And that host could be me, or worse, someone I love.
Yes, I know that in most cases of the virus the symptoms are mild—barely noticeable in some instances, but those that are bad, are scary.
BUT! Nature doesn’t give a flip. These past few days have been gorgeous here in Florida. Sunshine and temperatures in the 80’s. And in some parts of the country, snow is falling like crazy. The monster keeps on creeping, but nature doesn’t care, and that comforts me.
I hope all of you are safe and healthy and able to appreciate whatever nature is sharing with you today.
On Sunday Studly Doright and I drove south for about three hours to attend a Celebration of Life service for a man I’d never met, and who Studly only knew superficially through business contacts. We went more to support friends who’d known the man well than for any other reason.
The service was held at Silver Springs State Park near Ocala. I’d visited the park a decade or more ago and it’s lovelier than I remembered. When we entered the park a family member of the deceased directed us down a winding path to a rustic pagoda with raised seating and a view of cypress trees rising out of the swamp. The October sun filtering through the surrounding foliage created the most perfect spot on earth that day. We found our friends and sat together as the service began.
From the photos around the pagoda one quickly surmised that the man being honored had been rather remarkable. There were photos of him at the summits of several major peaks including the Matterhorn. He’d also been a deep sea diver and an astronomer. I wished I’d had the opportunity to have met him.
Then one of the pastors officiating the service spoke about the deceased saying he’d disliked Democrats and hated lawyers, and that if the man could speak from the grave he’d tell us to never vote for a Democrat. A smattering of laughter accompanied by a few groans resulted from his statement. I looked at Studly and he put his hand on my arm, most likely to keep me from saying something I’d regret. I’m no idiot, but I must say words bubbled in my mind.
The second pastor then went on to tell us how the deceased had loved the environment and sought God in all the faces of nature. But he’d hated Democrats and lawyers. Now, I’d say the dearly departed thought he was looking for God, but quite honestly never really cared about the meaning of God.
Listen, when I die, I don’t want any mention of politics. Such talk doesn’t belong at a funeral. I wouldn’t mind being eulogized in the sacred forest of Silver Springs State Park, though. Surely the trees will cleanse the air of any negativity.
Yesterday my cat, Scout, and I watched a hawk fly all around our backyard here at Doright Manor, lighting briefly on a lamppost before flying dramatically to the ground. He poked around in the grass for a minute or two before doing this:
I told Scout it looked like he was initiating a mating ritual. Every now and again he’d stop his dance and look directly at me, as if to say, “Hey, good looking….”
Scout yawned and said, “I’m almost certain that hawks perform an elaborate aerial mating ritual in place of a dance. And, honestly, you’re not his type.”
I’m always fascinated by the flow and rhythm of a storm–The light and sound parade that precedes the rainfall, the tapering off of rain followed by an encore of the opening chorus. I get chills when I get to be a witness to the greatest concert on earth.
During an intermission of the storm I’m watching a small turtle make its way across my yard.
I do not hate snakes. That being said, I’d just as soon not encounter a venomous one in close proximity to my home, as I did one day last week.
The night following the encounter that cottonmouth occupied my dreams every time I closed my eyes to sleep. In my waking hours I mentally retraced the steps I took prior to noticing his presence next to the garage and realized I’d likely come within inches of stepping on him. It was a sobering thought.
I’ve changed some of my habits after my snake experience, and I thought the lessons learned might be worth sharing. If nothing else, they’ll help me solidify what I gained from the experience.
Don’t walk and read simultaneously. The mail can wait to be sorted once you’re in the house. What a sad tale it might’ve been if I’d stepped on a viper while perusing a Talbots mailer.
Not all bad guys give a warning. If my snake friend had been a rattlesnake, chances are I’d have been warned off from the start. This guy lay silently, coiled and waiting for some clueless broad walking and reading a Talbots catalog to blunder into its sharp fangs.
Scan your surroundings. There’s a mnemonic acronym motorcyclists use to help avoid accidents–SIPDE. That stands for Scan (keep your eyes moving), Identify (note possible hazards), Predict (make an educated guess as to what the hazard might do), Decide (plan a course of action), and Execute (make it happen).
Please note that we Executed the snake. That’ll teach him.
Don’t trust your eyes, but scan anyway. He was camouflaged fairly well in his driveway matching color coordinated way. Look twice, then look again.
Always carry a bazooka. (Note to self: buy a bazooka.)
Don’t assume a snake is asleep just because it doesn’t respond to outside stimuli. It’s probably playing possum in hopes that you’ll be lulled into complacency. Or that you’re admiring a skirt in a fashion catalog.
I’m sure there are other lessons to be gained from my interaction with the snake, but thinking about it too much gives me the heebie jeebies.
(I found the photo directly above on twitter in order to show off the cottonmouth’s cotton mouth.)