Cookin', Critters and Chillun

Bathing with the wild things

I guess I should be used to it by now, but still, I started a bit when I got out of the shower yesterday morning and had to step carefully over a millipede. Maybe you haven’t encountered those mahogany brown arthropods almost as thick as your little finger who look like they have a million legs.

They can crawl pretty fast, but when disturbed, they coil up and lie still, making them easy to scoop up and toss outside.

This was the fourth one in 10 days, but the others weren’t trying to get into the shower. I had already bathed with a tiny spider clinging to the shower curtain liner – I left her alone to take care of fluttering moths – and dispatched a mosquito. At least there were no cats, dogs nor possums wanting to bathe with me.

I’ve learned to turn on the lights before entering a room in the dark, and to wear shoes. Last week, the visitor in the kitchen was a 2-inch-diameter Virginia wolf spider. She stood her ground, daring me to come closer. I plopped a glass over her, after first taking a photo and placing a ruler next to the glass, to show how big she really was.

I don’t kill spiders, either, as you may know from reading my columns over the years. I just want to see them first, and usually trap them in a glass or jar and escort them outside.

Last week, I dumped two red-headed skinks out of the dogs’ giant water bowl. I felt a little bad, though, because I had a fleeting thought they might really have been salamanders, which live in water. The fact that it was a hot day and both lizards were happily paddling in the water should have convinced me they were landlubbers.

The wild things we share our woods and house with have been pretty absent lately, though. I figure any day there will be a baby snake slithering across the dining room, a bat teasing the cat, a parade of deer crossing our private road, a flock of turkeys, a fox or at least, a box turtle. I guess the dry conditions are keeping the big things deeper in the woods, and bringing the little ones into our house searching for water.

I used to want to live in one of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s nature houses, like Fallingwater that has a creek running through it. That was before we started living up close and personal with critters who consider our home theirs, too.


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