Thursday, March 1, 2012

All Creatures Great & Small...

A vast difference that I am still coming to terms with as I adjust to everyday life in Tennessee, is the new abundance of both mildly troublesome and flat out dangerous critters that roam outside (and many times inside too!) our doors. This is not a problem that was particularly prevalent in North Yorkshire and certainly not in London town. The most I have ever come into contact with in the north of England was the odd erratic pheasant, perhaps a sly adder in some tall grass or a house spider that is, as they rightly say, is more scared of you than you are of him. In London, wild foxes greeted us during trash pick up and amid a cook out or two, often times leaving with a begrudged souvenir. That was the extent of the threat level in England.

The truth is I really have no basis for comparison when it comes to what is safe to interact with and what you should turn and flee* from (*flailing limbs optional) here in Tennessee. There are 32 species of snake happily residing in this state as far as we know, 4 of which possess a venom that is potentially harmful to humans (heads up Western Cottonmouth, I'm talking about you here). Lucky them. As far as spiders go I hear we kindly host some old favorites; the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse for starters. I myself have had many a run in with the Wolf Spider during my time working in western Ohio and let me tell you, I did not emerge victorious. They have quite the attitude, a confidence that is perhaps more unnerving than their bite. Joining these snakes and spiders in the great outback of Tennessee are their old friends the Striped and Unstriped Scorpion, Stinging Caterpillars, Fire Ants, Conenose Beetles... and these are just the folks that pose a medical threat with their venom. Don't get me started on the raccoon, the opossum and the black bear... wonderful creatures from a distance, less appealing from a foot or so outside of your main living area.

Nature here in Tennessee is certainly never boring and as a newbie I am still swept up in the immensely breathtaking flora and fauna that make up this Southern state. I do miss those befuddled pheasants though...

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