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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Something that I didn't expect when we moved to Florida was the number of animals we'd encounter on a daily basis.

The alligators in every retention pond, for instance.

And the raccoon family which I encountered last night when I went for a post-dinner stroll round the block.

And this morning, about a block away from our house, I drove past a whole flock of some kind of large black birds. I have no ornithological knowledge whatsoever, but "buzzard" and "vulture" and "my God those things are scary" came to mind when I saw them. They were in the process of devouring a dead armadillo, and three of them were actually tussling over its dismembered corpse.

And then there are the snakes. They must be enjoying the summery weather, because there seems to be an unnerving number of them about. Stephen almost put his foot on a huge one this morning; it was lying alongside the patio. His howl of fear (he absolutely hates snakes) and subsequent spectacular leap to safety have provided hours of entertainment for his callous little sisters; they are amusing themselves by restaging the Great Leap over and over again, while Stephen maintains a discreet silence.

He is feeling happy that we are leaving Florida as, about half-an-hour after he encountered Patio Snake at the back of our house, he opened our front door and found a second equally large snake - I would estimate it as at least five feet long - sunning itself next to the door mat.

These particular snakes are non-venomous, I'm glad to say. But still, I'm with Stephen - all snakes give me the shudders, particularly ones I find in our garden. I much preferred the monkeys who used to visit our back yard in Durban and steal our paw-paws.

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