Saturday, June 11, 2005

Urban wildlife

Ha. You probably thought I misspoke. That I really meant "urban nightlife", being an urban girl as I am. Nope. Wildlife. Urban wildlife.

Urban wildlife has one purpose: to annoy the urban girl. Go out into the country, the woods, the 'burbs, and wildlife is emblematic of beauty. The sleek beaver slipping into the water, having carved a downed tree to a fine point. Trout leaping upsteam, shining through water droplets as it heads out to spawn. Out there, wildlife demonstrates that we haven't killed off all habitats in the human quest for total domination and sublimation of the environment.

Here, in Chicagoland, animals drive us bonkers. Domesticated animals are bad enough. I use the term "domesticated" somewhat loosely. Walk up and down the sidewalks past the beautiful Oak Park homes and what are my senses inundated with? The aroma of poop. Dog poop, thankfully. But poop, nonetheless. There are 5 dogs per household in Oak Park. Really and truly. Work that out to dogs per square inch, think about where all of those dogs are letting loose their excrement, and let your olfactory senses run . . . away.

Then we have the noise pollution. Again, every house on the block has 5 dogs. And they all bark every time any other dog barks. Say there are 10 houses on each block. That gives you 50 dogs barking at all times. Because there is always one dog barking, which means there are always 50 dogs barking. My most especially included. :-)

That's just one example of one domesticated animal. The wild ones are infinitely worse. Take squirrels. Please, please take them. Remove them from my yard. Yes, you think they are cute. They are. Fluffy tails bouncing behind them as they scamper up and down tree trunks. Deft little paws clinging to branches. Fine. Just stop clinging to my flowers. The damn things dig up flowers faster than I can plant them. And they purposefully torture the 50 dogs on the block, goading them by standing directly above each dog, pelting them with "chase me, you dumb dog" vibes which then said dumb dog must give in to or die trying.

My next door neighbor, Roz, traps them every year. This strikes me as somewhat useless. Because we Oak Parkers are kind and liberal, the trapped animals are NEVER killed. They are trapped and released. In a forest preserve some 3 miles away. From whence they make their way right back into our yard. Or perhaps some slightly more nearby yard, displacing the squirrels from that yard into our yard. The supply is never-ending.

Possums are another one of my favorite city wildlife. The damn things are creepy, plain and simple. Totally silent, they'll stare you down for endless moments should you happen upon one in a summer evening. Playing dead, I'm told. Well, duh. If you're balanced on top of a fence, you're not dead. Yet.

I know that I'm supposed to have a animal lover's reverence for all animals. And this one in particular. "Oh, it's so wonderfully adaptive, having lived for thousands of years." Baloney. It's lived because it alternates between being creepy dead silent, then hissing and biting. Have you seen the teeth on those little runts?

I've left my favorite urban wildlife for last. Adorable little bunnies. Yes, they really are cute. But they love to nibble on my young spring sprigs. I've lost whole bushes to these chewing stuffed animals. Hostas, flowers, ivy. You name it, they eat it. And bunnies are as dumb as the day is long. How else can you explain a mother bun building a nest in a yard with a noisy retriever?

Guess the bunnies can't be all that dumb. They keep outsmarting me!

Until tomorrow,


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