Kate Flora: My husband and I have gotten in the habit of spending the month of March away from New England to escape from a too long winter. This winter, of course, has not been so bad, but the plans were in place, so we are hunkered down on Sanibel Island, off the Gulf Coast of Florida. Still bent over our keyboards and stacks of notes every day, but instead of surrounded by the browns and grays of a snowless New England landscape, there are swaying palm trees and squawking moorhens and mewling osprey overhead.
When our work is done–my 1000+ words and Ken’s editing of his WIP, we go and walk on the beach, maintaining careful social distance, of course, and watch the birds. Or we bike out to Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, and look at birds while getting some exercise.
One of the changes that comes with this month away is living in a very suburban neighborhood. At home, we live in the woods. Here, from the front we see a steady parade of dog walkers and bikes, and people coming back from the beach clutching bags of shells. In back, our rental has a deck overlooking a pond, and across the pond, we hear other people splashing in their pools, talking on the phone, and chatting. It makes me feel a bit like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window.
I can tell you that the man next door believes that this coronavirus things is a big hoax and blown out of proportion, while a woman across the pond has come down for three weeks to spend her quarantine time here. I can tell you that the people on the other side from “hoax man” are Massachusetts folks who have just finalized their move to live here permanently. I can tell you that we have a pool girl, not a pool boy. That her name is Amber, and that in my notes of stories I might write someday, I’ve written: Davey and the Pool Girl.
But about those iguanas. It seems Florida is overrun with invasive creatures that destroy the native inhabitants. One such invasive in the green iguana. Several years ago, I was sitting on a different back porch on a different part of the island when my husband called for me to look in the backyard and there was a very large green iguana making its way through the yard. I learned then, from the Sanibel town website, that the creatures are unwanted and someone spotting one should call the police.
Well. it was too late for that fellow. He (or she) went on into the jungle to continue depredations. Fast forward to the other day, when I was stuck trying to figure out what Joe Burgess was up to, and what had really happened to Dr. Ted Gabbro, geologist, and I went out with my camera to take a picture of a Great Egret. Something large and lizard-like was in a backyard across the pond. I grabbed my binoculars and there was a big, fast-moving iguana. Moments later, another, larger iguana appeared in the yard.
I called the cops.
It made me feel ridiculous, calling the cops on a lizard, but I did it. The dispatcher said the trapper was on the island and she would let him know.
I have no idea whether the critter got caught or escaped. But now, like Jimmy Stewart, I am out there several times a day, watching. Yesterday it was a swimming turtle and a pair of cormorants sunning themselves.
Good thing they don’t come with ticks.
Kate – You’ve met South Florida’s most in-your-face invasive species. Some Floridians dislike green iguanas even more than Burmese pythons because iguanas hang around people and assume proprietary rights.
While I’m certainly no expert here, I think contacting officials was absolutely the right thing to do. The pythons can be pretty destructive – they munch on host plants for the endangered Miami blue butterfly, eat eggs of Least Terns and other beach-nesting birds, and outcompete endangered critters like burrowing owls and gopher tortoises.
So, good on ya.