As a Kansas native, for the past 20-odd years I considered myself somewhat versed on wildlife and feral creatures. I’ve seen foxes, squirrels, and hawks on a regular basis. On the more exotic end, chickens, lizards, snakes, raccoons, and even opossums have come into view. Lately, however, I’ve found my former hypothesis to be a complete hoax; I’ve seen only an ocean droplet of what nature has to offer.
Helping reach this new theory was a series of first time discoveries – most of which were pointed out by Manny, a half boyfriend/half wildlife biologist combo. He has shown me foxes, scorpions, an armadillo, and a woodchuck who was frantically mowing down a yard of grass.
Perhaps these animals always existed near me and I just needed him to point them out. Then again, it’s hard to miss a charging armadillo or florescent-red fox.
The scorpions, however, I will attribute fully to him, as each one (the list is going on six-ish now) has been in his country home. Small, terrifying, and hideous, these tiny creepers hide in drawers, fall from door tops, and squish in anywhere else that might scare the absolute bejumping-jehoshaphat out of me.
According to Manny, the Kansas breed isn’t poisonous; their sting is similar to a regular ‘ol spider bite (not the dangerous kind). This makes them no less disgusting.
The house also intermittently holds wasps, spiders – large and small – moths, and even a few crickets. When each creature is spotted, they are to be caught in a glass jar and held in a size appropriate holding tank until their time-out has been served. Then, after said time, they are free to rejoin nature, so long as they promise not to commit any further break ins.
On the scale of horseflies to dinosaurs, there’s plenty I have yet to check off my looked-in-the-eye list. Most I can’t view because of location challenges; tigers and elephants can be seen in a zoo (cheating), but even chain link fence can’t hold every species. When was the last time you saw a fire breathing dragon at the zoo? Or frolicking pegasuses and unicorns, stamping glitter with each harp-punctuated step?
But back to my checklist.
Two weeks ago I took an East Coastern-ish vacation, which allowed me to add several sea creatures to the things-I’ve-seen mix – at least those that were iced and bagged up. While at a local fish market, I saw hundreds of whole dead fish, just waiting to get beheaded and gutted.
On the live section on the dock, however, were carts of claw-banded crabs. Bluer and smaller than I expected, these little guys crawled all leggity on top of one another, trying to look as unappetizing as possible, lest they get chosen for the steamer. But alas, their efforts were fruitless; we picked out multiple dozen to steam bath, soak in Old Bay, and consume.
Like a real Marrish,* I ripped apart entire crabs with my bare hands and ate their labor intensive innards. Did I feel bad about first looking them in the eyes and then sucking down their meat? Maybe a little. But it’s not like I know them personally, like Sebastian. Eating the stranger crabs was no worse than seeing cows on a daily basis, or listening to their loud moos while grilling up burgers and steaks. Besides, cows are mammals; if I can willingly eat four-legged creatures, why would an alien-looking one be any worse? Especially when both parties are so completely and fully delicious.
*The technical term, I have been told, is Marylander. But rather than accept this irregular demonym, I decided – in honor of the record breaking third London Olympics – to follow the most common pattern, such as British, Irish, and English … like any United Statesian/Midwesterner combo would.