Snakes and spiders, cougars and earthquakes, things I hardly knew of before moving to SoCal. Just recently, and for the first time (at least for me), the bed went rock-a-rock while I sat on it reading. I first thought that my husband, who had been asleep, was having some sort of fit - until I realized that we had had an earthquake. It was a sensation not to my liking. As for tarantulas, having seen one in our house and near our bedroom last year, I keep my eyes open, although I've not yet seen one this year - and nor do I hope to. Cougars I regularly keep an eye out for as well, carrying a heavy putter in one hand when walking my dog around dusk, when things finally cool down. Just in case.
Then there are the rattlers, which I've been informed are plentiful this year. In early spring, my husband dispatched a medium-sized one, as did our yard guy, who also saw another, but larger one, get away. And one day, when I drove up the steep driveway to our house, I witnessed a very large rattlesnake that was slithering across our driveway. On yet another day, while walking our dog on Pine Creek Road, we came across a baby rattler sunning itself in a crack along the asphalted pavement. Having been disturbed, it moved away towards shelter beneath a rock alongside the road, all the while glaring menacingly at yours truly, who was trying to take its picture while attempting to keep a safe distance. It was a bit comical as, while slithering towards shelter and away from me, it kept its head cocked in my direction, all the while staring at me with the maddest look upon its face.
And then later, while yard guy was clearing out the brush around our house, he and his partner killed two more rattlers on the hillside in front of our house. But when they attempted to clear out the brush that they'd cut from my back yard, a very large rattler (perhaps the one I'd seen traversing my driveway) slithered into the crawl space beneath my house. Yard guy's helper surmised that we'd seen no rodents around our house, and that we both now knew the reason why. And I probably help the large rattler living beneath my house thrive, when watering the plants in the raised bed alongside the front of my house, where there are two openings in the outside wall that lead to the crawlspace beneath.
Now I've been assured that this particular rattler cannot gain access to the ducts used in our heating system, nor to the pipes associated with our septic system, and yet I wonder. So my eyes are also on the lookout for snakes that might crawl in the house in which I live.
Never did I think I'd be on the lookout for all these above-noted creatures. I should also note that a short time ago, a couple of what looked to be very well-fed coyotes passed by my kitchen window, which looks out upon the hillside of Guatay Mountain. These two coyotes appeared to be on what one would refer to as "a mission." They actually looked good, their grey fur being full and smooth, and not at all mangy. Would that they were after my crawl-space snake, for which I was told a mongoose or a rat terrier might do the trick. Yard guy's helper also would love to catch this rattler, whose skin he'd use in a wallet or a belt. Not my style, but to each their own.
And not to forget, then came the big heat, which I understand came a bit early this year, and for which folks from northern climes, such as your truly, are not accustomed.
Nor is my German Shepherd dog, with all her heavy fur; she really has had to acclimatize. And so we fill her water bowl with ice and tend to walk her towards dark, when the last of the sun's rays fall upon the mountaintops - all the while keeping both eyes peeled for those big cats that venture out at dusk.