Right now, we have a little deer situation in our neighborhood. Last week, my family and I watched as four, adolescent bucks strolled up to our neighbor’s front door, trampled the lawn, had a good look in their windows, then set about ravaging their bushes. It was the deer equivalent of toilet papering the place.
The raccoons are a little more Girls Gone Wild. Last week, they broke into my mom’s kitchen, and proceeded to shred cereal boxes, smash glass, canning jars, rip open bags of pasta and rice, and then frolic in the mixed contents. If raccoons could flash their hoochies at a camera, you know they would.
And then, in the classic Bay Area wildlife encounter, there is the time my German au pair drove up into the Headlands at sunset to photograph the bridge with some girlfriends. They lingered, marvelling at the evening fog, reveling in the beauty of it all. But then it got dark.
They returned to their car, now alone in the carpark, but, wait, something was wrong! A dog was threatening them!
“But it was a funny looking dog,” she told me, hours later. “Maybe it was a stray?” I started to get an uneasy feeling.
“Um, what did you and your friends do?” I asked.
“Well, this dog would not go away. It started coming close to us, so we climbed on the roof of the car, but it wouldn’t go away, even when we shouted. We had to sit up there. Look, I took a picture.”
She handed me her camera. There, centered in the viewfinder, grinning like it had just been caught by the paparazzi, was a coyote. They’re around, too. They go back and forth across the Golden Gate bridge, with the tourists and bicyclists.
There’s the skunk that sprayed my daughter’s kindergarten classroom, possums in the school compost pit, the wild turkeys we all have to slow for while they waddle down the middle of the road like middle-aged joggers, and, oh, I don’t know, bobcats, hares, venomous spiders, leopard sharks, a few mountain lions, a recent, strange plague of jellyfish, foxes, and great white sharks. To name a few.
Celebrity wildlife includes Humphrey, the whale who swam up the Sacramento River, the mother whale and calf who did the same thing, turned around, and then went back to sea, the sea lion who was attacking all the bay swimmers from the Dolphin Club and South End Rowing Club (authorities thought maybe he was the marine mammal equivalent of bi-polar, which is so Bay Area), the parrots of Telegraph Hill, and the Peregrine falcons who nest on the PG & E building. They have their own website and band of followers, who meet weekly for sunset bird watching and, I’d like to imagine, cocktails after.
I guess in other places, people might freak out a little with all this, um, abundance, but in the Bay Area, true to form, we mainly find the zen in it. Surfers belong to foundations to save the sharks. Gardeners grumble, then shrug, and plant “deer resistant” landscaping. We are the yin to our environmental yang, or whatever. You get my continental drift. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a turkey vulture sunning himself on my back deck….