Where the Wild Things Are by Deb Tiffany

bookcoverRight 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….

9 Replies to “Where the Wild Things Are by Deb Tiffany”

  1. You do have an, er, abundance of wildlife. I’m just glad there was no mention of snakes! And I’m glad Californians mostly just accept their animal neighbors and attempt to live in peace with them. It’s much easier for everyone that way.

  2. Meredith, I’m not afraid of snakes at all. Don’t know why. I don’t know if we have more wildlife than anyone else. I think people in the Bay Area are just more tuned into it. Our environment is such a huge part of our lives out here. And, hey, I didn’t even get to the hippies in my post!

  3. We get bears in our backyard. It used to freak me out. Now I call the dogs in and pray he doesn’t poop. Bear poop is both massive and vile to clean up

  4. We have lots of coyotes… I read an article that said the best thing to do is yell and throw things (like dirt or small pebbles) and make them think humans are just awful creatures to be avoided. Not to hurt them; just to keep them from getting too interested. The one in that encounter sounds forward enough to be dangerous! People must be feeding them.

    Your neighborhood sounds very exciting, LOL.

  5. Yeah, people are feeding the coyotes. It’s stupid and sad. Now they’re not afraid of people. It’s getting to be a little bit of an issue. The deer, I don’t have problems with, but I wouldn’t like a pack of coyotes to saunter down my street.

  6. Amatures all! After 35 years as a journalist, I’ve retreated to my ranch in Central Texas (which we’ve owned for 16 years, having cut our wildlife teeth in Central California on a godforsaken rental ranch in “Bitterwater” (not kidding) 50 miles inland from Monterey as the crow flies, but only a crow would venture that far adrift. Legacy Ranch in Placid (again, not kidding) is in the exact geographic center of Texas and we run our 272 acres of utopia as a native wildlife refuge. You name it, we tame it. Plus 10 pettable longhorn steers to combat the unruly coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions. No dogs, they just mess things up. Like I said. Utopia. But Tiffany… I learned to live on the wild side as a native Californian from the Bay Area, spending all my spare time in the Sierras. My first fling with utopia.

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