I’ve gotten enough questions about the previous post that I figured I’d better explicate a bit.
mosquito (several species), blackfly, horsefly What you’re assuming here is true. I was born in Upstate New York, flying pest country.
human One in particular. (Hi, Craig!)
cat, dog, flea (several species) No mystery here.
cow My dad’s older brother Jack was a dairy farmer. Still would be, if he had his way, I’m guessing. He runs a small engine shop on the outskirts of a small town now, but gets up early every day to milk someone else’s cows just to stay in practice. I stayed on his farm a few summers in the 1960s, and running unsupervised through the milking shed I apparently looked like plant material to one of his cows, who sampled my shirt sleeve and a small amount of skin. I wasn’t supposed to be in the shed by myself, and I don’t think I ever told anyone.
Eastern garter snake Caught near Cayuga Creek, and it didn’t want to come home with me.
Chinese praying mantis I utterly deserved this.
pavement ant Minding my own business, standing barefoot on a sidewalk.
blacknose dace, fathead minnow The skin lightly off my toes, immersed in the viscid waters of pre-Clean Water Act Cayuga Creek.
budgerigar It was my job to put them back in their cage after a morning of flying around my sister’s room.
sheep, goat Petting zoos.
guinea pig, hamster, gerbil Pets.
head louse Brought home from school by a sibling. (Hi, Craig!)
deer tick That was a great camping trip. Got lost in the woods in Virginia, snorkeled off early-1970s Miami Beach, stopped at Ross Allen’s Reptile Farm in Ocala-Silver Springs. Didn’t add gator to the list.
perch After a moonlight drive through the Badlands in South Dakota in 1983, Harold the German Tourist and I stopped in Mitchell for ham and eggs ($1.99). Four or five cups of coffee later, we recrossed the Missouri and headed into Iowa, found a rest stop with a pond, and while Harold worked the driving stress out of his shoulders I walked with plastic sandals on the fringes of the pond. It was a hot day. Ouch!
ensatina salamander Nothing to write home about.
Cuban tree frog Name of Julia, found on a stepladder in the nursery where I worked in Rockville Maryland. He’d (yes, yes, named Julia and male, so shoot me) come in with a load of tropical houseplants from nurseries in south Florida. I caught him in a coffee cup and ran across the street to buy a five-gallon aquarium, where he lived for the next five years. There are stories to tell about Julia traveling cross-country with Matthew and me, his aquarium in the passenger foot well of an overloaded Ford U-Haul pickup, or of feasting on the 17-year locust emergence his last summer in DC… but he once mistook my index finger for a cricket or something, and let me have it.
cedar waxwing I was rescuing it after it had been savaged by an outdoor cat. It didn’t mean to bite me, I suspect.
California newt Forgettable and gummy.
Indonesian garter snake Becky’s pet, Jaime. Jaime ate small live fish. Sometimes he had to be coaxed, and I would take a recently-demised fish by the tail and wiggle it in front of his nose. It usually worked as planned.
Norway rat Another pet. Good Old Fraida. She didn’t mean it.
dog tick, Argentine ant That’s just life in 21st century California.
hyacinth macaw In an Oakland pet store, the macaw was free range and a center of attention, and it decided it liked me very much. I spent twenty minutes longer than I had planned to in that store, waitiing for the bird to grow bored with me and hop off my shoulder. It didn’t. Eventually, needing to leave, and lacking the several thousand dollars I’d have needed to take Mr. Macaw home with me, I went to his roost and lightly bumped his breast against his perch, hoping he’d take the hint. Instead, he looked me in the eye, slowly, methodically bent his face down toward my shoulder, took a fairly large transsect of that shoulder between upper and lower mandible, and began, in ever so small increments, to squeeze. And. Didn’t. Stop. Until I yelled for the fourth time. And then he went back to his perch and yelled too. The welt lasted for weeks.
steelhead Swimming in Dillon Creek, a clear and cold tributary of the Klamath River north of Somes Bar, my friend and I were finding gold and snakes. The snakes were flirtatious and swam always just to the next bar. The gold lay dormant under tons of sand. I found a deep pool and went in to my forehead. My toes immediately went completely numb. The minnows I’d seen from above the surface, seen without that interfering meniscus, proved to bear distinct parr marks up and down their sides — steelhead. I tried to catch them in my cupped hands, moviing as slowly as I could. One took exception.
horse A misdirected desire for carrots.
arboreal salamander He didn’t want to be relocated from the site of my small construction project.
California towhee Towhee came into my house a few years back, and battered herself against the window trying to get out. I took her in hand, and frightened her. This is uncharacteristic of the species: they are very easygoing birds.
rabbit Thistle gets neutered on Friday.