We all know that animals outnumber humans on this planet. (So do insects by a much higher number, but let’s not get into that today.) We consider ourselves the rulers of the planet (silly us), so it should be up to us to figure our how we all fit together. My solution is to keep everything where it belongs. In my life, here’s how I’ve coexisted with other species.
Pets: We’ve had dogs and cats since very shortly after we were married. That’s the easy way to coexist, have pets. We’ve let them go by attrition now and are without pets, having lost the last cat a couple of years ago. Agamemnon was a good pal, curling up next to me as I worked, only occasionally wanting keyboard time for himself. I kept an old, old version of Elf Bowling on all my computers because he liked to play it.
Wild animals: They’re fine outdoors–love them. Not indoors.
I’ll consider birds, first of all. I adore birds (when they’re outside, where they belong). I love having bird feeders. I sit with my bird books, hoping to catch one I’ve never seen before. We’re having a great experience at our new house in Knoxville. We back up to a medium-sized woodsy area that houses deer, coyotes, raccoons, bald eagles and possums–that I know of. Chipmunks dart under our storage shed and porch.
Love the birds outside. I do not like birds in my house. A couple of times they’ve gotten in, when kids have left doors open, or when cats are bringing them to me. I remember one time, when we lived in Minnetonka, MN. My husband was on a business trip and a bird was careening about the living room maniacally, totally out of control, trying to go through our large picture windows to get out. I snatched up the baby, yelled for the boys to follow me, and ran screaming from the house. I went to the next door neighbor’s place. Her husband was home and he volunteered to shoo it out with a broom.
When I reported this to the husband later that night, he was alarmed. “Was it an eagle or something?” he asked. I had to sheepishly admit it was a sparrow. But, hey, they have claws and beaks, too. They’re smaller, but just as sharp.
We are delighted that bluebirds nested in a large stump in our backyard this spring. We’ve also spotted, new-to-us, yellow warblers, rufous-sided towhees, and some fat brown ones that I haven’t identified yet.
On to mammals. Spotting bears, elk, big-horn mountain sheep, bison, and others has given me much delight over the years of camping in national parks. Many of our vacations were spent like that when the kids were little, and even as they got much older.
The little cinnamon bear I snapped in Yellowstone a few years ago was so adorable! But the black bear that is running loose in Knoxville this week gives me the willies. I don’t like for bears to even be in my neighborhood! Love them in the parks.
A wildlife removal company captured seven (seven!!!) raccoons in our crawl space last week. The cleanup took another whole day because they’ve evidently been living there for a long time. I felt bad when they took the caged babies away because I know, by Tennessee law, they have to be put to sleep. With rabies, better safe than sorry. I do agree with this, but the little guys were cute. I leaned over and apologized to them, lamenting the fact that they were born in the wrong place–under my house. Right under my bedroom, actually. We’ve been hearing them at night for a couple of months, since about the time those babies were born.
I’m only willing to take coexistence so far. The animals need to stay out of my house. This goes for insects, too!
Cressa Carraway, the musician/sleuth in my new book, Eine Kleine Murder, has a mouse problem in her grandmother’s lakeside cabin in rural Illinois where she’s gone to finish her masters’ thesis composition. Her big setback is coming upon her grandmother’s dead body in the lake on her first night. The persistent mice in the cabin are a minor annoyance, but get on her nerves. The cabin Cressa is using was pretty faithfully modeled after the cabin my mother used to have at the same resort. So are the mice, unfortunately.
I’d love to hear of coexistence problems from others.
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