This is an exciting week for the Wicked Cozies – it’s Jessie Crockett’s launch week! Drizzled With Death is out tomorrow, and to celebrate we’re spending the entire week celebrating all things New Hampshire, maple syrup, breakfast – you get the idea. We’re kicking off with a fun one: Our best wildlife encounters. This is gonna be good, I can just tell….
Liz: If we were running a contest for this one, I would win, hands down. I have to share my snake story. Now, snakes are probably the things I like the least, next to big, hairy spiders, so this was probably one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had. I had just started a new job (this was about three or so years ago) and was driving down 384 to I-84 in Connecticut toward Hartford. It was summer, so I wore sandals. As I began merging onto I-84, I thought I felt something touch my toe but figured my shoe had slid or something and I had touched the gas pedal. Not giving it a second thought, I reached for my cup of coffee in the center console.
And saw a snake slither right past it, into the backseat.
I think I screamed. I know I almost rear-ended the 18-wheeler in front of me. I imagined the snake the size of a boa constrictor, bearing down on my neck from behind as I frantically tried to watch behind and in front of me simultaneously. I finally found a place to pull over, got out of the car, opened all four doors and stood there like a moron, with no idea what to do next. To make a long story short, I finally found the snake IN MY COACH PURSE in the front seat of the car, taunting me. After throwing the entire thing down the embankment off the highway, I was finally able to go to work. Looking like a horror movie survivor. Three years later I can laugh about it, but at the time….not so much.
Barb: Oh, Liz! I think you are going to win this one hands down. I’ve had the usual encounters with bats and mice in the house, and one extremely memorable picnic on an island in Lake George so overrun with people-savvy raccoons they had figured out how to unlock Coleman coolers. We watched one fiddle with the lock until it got it, throw open the lid, pick out a hard-boiled egg and calmly peel and eat it all the while staring straight at us, less than 20 feet away, daring us to say anything about it.
Last winter in Key West a pair of great blue herons nested on the roof of our condo building. They would sit at the edge and stare down at us in the pool from four stories up. Magnificent and huge. Anyone who doesn’t believe birds are descended from dinosaurs needed to get a look at these two.
Jessie: Several years ago, on a family trip to Brazil, we decided to visit Iguacu Falls. The views were magnificent but the park was overrun by coatis, a sort of oversized, particularly brazen cousin of the raccoon. I managed to put on a brave face in front of my kids when the creatures approached in roving gangs, sniffing at ankles and pawing at pant legs, but just below the surface I was quivering. Despite my concerns I had snapped photo after photo of the extraordinary waterfalls before realizing the film in my camera hadn’t loaded properly. My husband and the kids had gotten ahead of me and I decided there was no way a menacing troop of thugs would keep me from the vacation photo glory that was mine.
I reloaded the film, took a few calming breaths and plunged back down the trail. The coatis spotted me right away and started to swarm. I fell back on my default position of humming Amazing Grace whilst imagining myself back in a hammock in New Hampshire. Just as the sound of the coatis snuffling and pawing was growing louder in my ears than my own humming they darted away from me and pounced on a woman a few feet down the trail. She had an unzipped backpack dangling low on her back and luckily for me, it contained food. I took advantage of the distraction, finished taking my photos and rejoined my family unscathed. I channeled some of the emotion of that experience into an incident Dani Greene has in Drizzled with Death.
Julie: I am such a city girl. An opossum walked toward me one day when I was moving trash cans back, and I screamed my head off. My sister and brother-in-law saw a fox on Newbury Street earlier this month, which must have been a pet that got loose. (“Are you sure it was a fox?” I asked. “Wasn’t moving fast. It was a fox.”) And I’ve done the dance with rats a couple of times. (They run towards me, I scream, they scream, we both run in the same direction. . .) But my strangest encounter of late was during a police ride along Sherrie Harris and I did. Another officer was called out because of a python sighting. He brought it back to the station in a pillow case, and was going to bring it to an animal hospital. He estimated 6 foot long. We glimpsed in, but didn’t have a close encounter. Pretty happy about that!
Edith: Wow, what a bunch of adventures! Let’s see. I’ve had to treat lightly around scorpions in Burkina Faso and was warned about how fast hippos can swim when boating in Niger. I rode a camel, there, too, which is pretty unsettling. They kneel on their elbows and you climb on, and and then hold on for dear life as they stand. In Nigeria we walked through a wildlife park with a guide and came pretty close to a group of elephants and also saw some wild pigs. When I was a child camping with my family in the Sierras we had been eating lunch at our campsite and someone said there were bears in the next site over. We went to look, and when we came back more bears were eating our lunch! Watermelon and all. But none of these were particularly scary.
The kind of wildlife that scared me most in West Africa were the little tiny guys that get into your gut and make you really, really sick. And the parasites that live in river water. We boiled and filtered our water, never took ice cubes in restaurants, and soaked any produce you couldn’t peel in a bleach solution before eating it, which kind of ruins lettuce and strawberries.
Sherry: I am late to the party having just arrived home from Boston this morning at 9. I’ve been allergic to grass all my life which got me out of mowing. When we lived in Florida Bob was going to be gone for six weeks to Africa. I decided it was time to give mowing a try. Things were going well until I ran over a snake. It didn’t die right away and was leaping up around me in a circle. After I got done screaming I ran into the house and called a lawn service.
Readers: What was your most, shall we say, interesting wildlife encounter?