Wednesday, November 30, 2016


This was printed in the Orlando Sentinel November 29, 2016.

I am The Bug Killer.

When it gets cold they come inside.  When I moved to Florida I found out that all kinds of things are bigger here. Most bugs are smallish but every now and then they get to be a good size and then they scare you half to death.

There's just one thing.

I moved here from New York where cockroaches are a way of life and that taught me how to goosh them. I brought that skill with me. So instead of running screaming into the night when I happen to come upon bugs I move towards them and put out their lights.

That's how I roll.

Bugs are inventive in how they hide and how they run. You have to always be on guard, always vigilant. I mentioned that most of them are small but, see, we have palmetto bugs here and they can be pretty big. It doesn't matter. I goosh them just the same.

Okay, Florida critters.

One day I saw my dog chasing something in the back yard. Turns out it was an armadillo. Turns out we had a family of armadillos nesting in our back yard.

Can you say, "Oh no?" I think you can.

So I did what any brand new Floridian might do, I called a specialist.  He called himself an Animal Wrangler. He came, assessed the situation and said, "You got armadillos."

I kinda knew that.

He put cages down and lo and behold we caught four of them. Mom, dad, and two kids. He drove away assuring me the armadillos would be let out in a far away wooded area.

I was okay with that.

Moving here, I wasn't quite prepared for all the wonderful wildlife. If you grew up here you're used to it but remember up north a squirrel is a big deal. Here it's no deal at all.

Once I looked up into the sky and saw what I thought was a small plane. After rubbing my eyes and shaking my head, I realized it was a bald eagle.

That'll set a person back a bit.

I moved here in 2004, right after the hurricanes hit. I'd never lived here before and when I pulled onto my street there were a bunch of turkey buzzards eating some roadkill. Buzzards that look like they were from prehistoric times.

Everyone just drove by like it was nothing and I remember thinking, "Is anybody seeing this?"

We have hawks down here who fly like jet fighters. Fast and can turn on a dime. One day, as I was taking out the trash, I noticed one sitting in a tree.  Now, a hawk just doesn't sit on a branch, in a tree, near our garage, for nothing. All of a sudden, he reaches down into the tree, pulls out a baby bird and flies off, fast, with it in his beak.  The mama bird went after him squeaking the whole time.

I'm flabbergasted while watching this.

I go inside and breathlessly tell Denise what I just saw. She looks me in the eyes and says, as calm as she could be, "Circle of life."

I learned something about my wife that day. Not sure what it was but it was something.

I've seen rabbits, I've seen raccoons, I've seen lizards, I've seen cranes...I know what you're thinking, but have you seen gators?

I have.

But not in my yard.

Since we don't live near water we haven't had a,"Where's the dog?" moment. My wife sighs and talks about living on a lake but I won't even consider it for that very reason.

Because it's warm here all kinds of things run wild.

It doesn't help that my cousin David reminds me that 30 foot pythons are all over the Everglades. I tell him over and over that I don't live near there and remind him that he might watch the Nature Channel way too much.

Way too much.

Florida life.


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