The perpetually Sunshine State may be all about miles of white sandy beaches, warm aquamarine waters, and stately palm trees but, it also is the Bug Capital of the region.
“La Cucaracha” was a song we sang in 8th grade Spanish class. Here, they are your roommates.
Our backyard is a vast tropical expanse. There are a dozen palm trees of varying sizes and a massive Star Fruit tree that drops bitter yellow blobs at an alarming rate.
Forget about sitting quietly and meditating while gazing upon this lush, green paradise. Everywhere you look, slithering on every tree, table, chair fencepost -are lizards, geckos and chameleons and the occasional black snake. They say the snakes are benign and supposedly good luck, however, that rising up like a Cobra-thing they do before they dart and gobble up lizards is gross.
Early on, the perpetual optimist, I thought I might take up gardening, and tame our backyard. Naïvely, I gently lifted a dangling vine, only to uncover a huge, shiny, 3-inch, brightly colored red and green bug. All aspirations for gardening ended then and there…
To the mall and beyond!
We now live in the lush, green, warm tropics.
In the backyard, we have a dozen palm trees and a Star Fruit tree, which on a windy day, drops yellow blobs of fruits at an alarming rate.
There are some pointy, succulent, cactusy things in one corner, an orange Hibiscus and thorny, purple, Bougainvillea in the other and there is a smattering of mangy bushes.
As a rule, Northern Californians are pretty clueless when it comes to palm trees. Redwood trees are our thing. Joyce Kilmer certainly wasn’t writing about palm trees.
Who knew that a palm tree would give off these huge, dead pods that look like something out of “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers?” Often you wake in the morning and discover, sometime in the quiet of night, another corpse has appeared on your lawn.
Every once in a while you might see a Black Snake. Today, there was a three-foot black snake sunning itself on the steps.
However, the most egregious creatures are the slippery, slimy, ones. They dart and dash and scurry and scamper all over the doorstep and on the patio. Lizards and reptile cousins slither up and down the trees, all over the fence, in and out of bushes.
And, they are on top of your garbage can. Some of them reside in your garbage can.
I have the unseemly job of taking the garbage can to the driveway and putting it out for the pickup on Monday morning.
My stomach churns, my skin crawls and my mouth is dry, as I open the door to go outside to Lizard Land. They must know I’m coming. Can they smell my fear?
Once a week, I put on my perfect-for-Yosemite hiking boots and step into their world. As fast as I can, I grab that green receptacle and race to the curb and back into the safety of the house. Door slammed and locked. Good-bye, suckers.
Safe for another week.