Friday, November 10, 2006

wild in the city

A few nights ago, I saw a deer.

In some parts of the country seeing deer is not a big deal. One of my friends lives 'back East' and every Spring she curses the deer that chew her garden to shreds. But the OC is a very densely populated mega-burb with many small parks and few wide open spaces. Despite that, I've seen all kinds of wildlife.

When we lived near Huntington Beach, raccoons were a huge problem. One year I spent hours planting tulip and hyacinth bulbs (after refrigerating them for six weeks because it's not cold enough here in the winter). I was so looking forward to seeing all the gorgeous tulips come up in the spring. The next morning, every single bulb was dug up and chewed. There were all these little tiny childlike footprints in the dirt.

A few days later I woke up early and went outside to get the paper. When I walked past my would-be flowerbed, I did a double take: staring at me was a raccoon the size of a cocker spaniel. He had a tulip bulb in each paw and one in his mouth. We had a few moments of "oh sh!t, now what?" on both sides before he put down the bulbs and ambled off into the sewer grate in front of our home. It turns out that raccoons like to live in the sewers. Who knew?

Possums are another very common city creature. I've also seen plenty of coyotes. The area wer currently live in is only a few hundred yards from a very large wilderness park. The park connects to a huge conservation area. It all means miles and miles of open land, from inland OC to the ocean. Coyotes are so common here that no one keeps their cats outdoors because the cat will get eaten within days. Most people don't leave dogs out either- even big dogs run into trouble from the coyotes. I've seen coyotes here as big as German Shephards.

And then there are all the little wilds- snakes (including rattlers) , hawks, assorted rodentia, etc..

But I've never seen a deer walking down the sidewalk at dusk and that's exactly what I saw a few nights ago. Waiting for the light to change, I glanced over at something and realized it was a big deer (big enough to tower over the Honda Civic it was walking by) strolling down the sidewalk like it had places to go and people to see. We were stopped on a bridge that crosses over the wilderness park so I'm sure that's where the deer came from. The light changed but no one moved. We were all staring at the deer! Eventually it decided to walk across the street between cars and disappeared down the footpath leading into the park.

I find it ironic that all the times I've been hiking or camping and I've only ever seen a deer up close while stopped in my minivan in the middle of suburbia.

And on another note....some more digiscrapping:

ello? ello?