Creatures and Critters

Wavelets ripple murky waters of the pond across the fairway from my condo. Like a creature from the black lagoon, a shiny black head breaks the surface. Exposing only head and neck, a yellow tube hanging from a black-ringed mouth, it gazes right, then left … searching.

What in the world? Does the 109 degree desert heat have me hallucinating? Peering through the safety of my kitchen window, I spot a breathing apparatus atop a red inner-tube-type contraption floating at water’s edge. Does The Creature need a breathing machine? I don’t recall seeing such a thing in the movie.

I can’t imagine what he is doing in a pond that, though continuously circulating, is an uninviting shade of moss green. (Have I mentioned that Canadian geese, coots, and the McDuck family with babies have set up house around the pond?) I don’t dare blink, so captivated by the head bobbing up, scanning the surface, and then submerging once again. I fight the urge to pull out binoculars for a better look; I don’t want the neighbors to think I’m a window peeper.

Suddenly, a right palm at the end of a black arm slaps down onto the low bank, followed by a matching appendage on the left. A slight figure sausaged into a black wet suit pushes himself out of the pond. Lifting off a face mask, spitting out the yellow tube, he unwinds a netted bag from around his neck. It is then I see a man who has been collecting golf balls from the bottom. There must be at least 100 balls in the bag. I try not to think of other slimy things that slipped between his fingers. Ewwwww!

Other critters return. One indicator of Season’s end is the additional hummingbirds at my feeders. They hover in increasing numbers, sipping sugar water from yellow plastic flowers molded into the base of the feeder. They are a bit fickle, flying from courtyard to courtyard in search of sweet treats, with little regard for those who feed them year-round. But they are such a cute lot.

A few weeks back, I walked into my bathroom to find all three girls staring straight up at the skylight. Flat noses a-sniff, tails a-twitch, they chattered as cats will do when a tasty tidbit is in sight. To my astonishment, a hummingbird was perched precariously on a ledge just below the skylight. Oh, cripes! Guess I had left the sliding glass door to the atrium open too far.

What to do? Knowing they are attracted to bright colors, I slapped my brain into overdrive to figure out what I could use to entice the little cutie down. In the garage I discovered a flat-head mop with a yellow microfiber duster on the end. Ah-ha!

Supervised by the cats, I carefully extended the mop into the skylight. Terrified by a giant-sized person poking a long stick into an area where she’d felt safe, the little hummer flitted in circles attempting to escape. I tried to match her flits by swaying the mop back and forth with the hope that she would get the picture. I spoke words of encouragement to entice her onto the pretty yellow mop.

“Come on, baby. You can do it. I’ll take you outside to the honeysuckle. Or how about the feeder I just refilled with fresh sugar water? Yummy! Your favorite!”

The cats moved to the edge of the bathtub for a better view, drooling, waiting for “lunch” to fall from exhaustion. I prayed it didn’t drop something unpleasant on the floor for me to slip in. Worse yet, drop the goo onto my head as I gaze up open-mouthed.

She keeps circling the skylight. I keep circling the pretty yellow mop. After about ten minutes my arms began to fail, shaking as if afflicted by palsy, which doesn’t do much to give the little bird confidence in me as rescuer extraordinaire.

But I’m losing patience here and resort to, “Okay, you little bugger, get the hell onto the mop so I can take you outside!”

As if sensing my frustration, she tests the mop head with one toothpick-sized leg, then another, before settling into the fuzzy yellow fibers. With a silent “Yahoo!,” I bring the mop down slowly, just low enough to make it out the bathroom door. Tip-toeing through the bedroom and into the atrium, I lean the mop head onto the honeysuckle. With an intense, bright-eyed stare at me as if to say, “Thanks!,” she hops onto the honeysuckle, then drops to circle the feeder before flying off into the neighbor’s courtyard. Yep. They’re pretty darn fickle!

Life here in the desert has been hectic these past few months, evidenced by the length of time since my last segment of Desert Diary. But the 2011-2012 Season has come to a close. Gone are the days when every conceivable charity organization crams their fundraisers onto the calendar, hoping for hefty donations from full-pocketed donors. Until next Season, the lavish luncheons, buffed-up bachelor auctions, celebrity-filled soirees, and canine couture shows are put on hold. Nearly-nightly events here at Indian Ridge have been reduced to once a week social hours and monthly wine club gatherings.

The tension that comes with bringing a third cat into an existing household of two is gone, with everyone finding their own favorite spot, but willing to share if someone else gets there first. Reilly has adjusted nicely to being spoiled. Her personality is somewhere between the she-devil, Chianne, and the catnap queen, Dakota. All is well in kitty land.



Now I can be quiet with my thoughts. It is time to tune-up aging brain cells that have gotten lazy from the winter’s rest. It is time to return to my writing. Who knows what adventures await along the sandy trail?