Five blocks from the best beach in the United States, two great horned owls sat in trees calling out into the frosty darkness of an early winter morning, one in a strip of woods along Somerset Drive on the south side of 65th Avenue and the other in a small cluster of trees in a residential area to the north.
The interaction was a reminder of the diversity of wildlife thriving in the beach-side community that I proudly call home.
I should be flogged for negligence if I didn’t next mention my natural alarm clock — mockingbirds. I hear them running through their territorial repertoires, sometimes as early as 4:20 (as if rubbing that particular time in my face). It’s astonishing to listen to their flawless imitations, and it makes me laugh watching them chase much larger birds through the cerulean skies while I trek to and from the sand and shells.
Last spring and summer I was often greeted by a tree frog living in the bushes at the foot of the stairwell in front of my apartment. The little fella startled me one morning by jumping onto my arm from its thick habitat. Peace, frog.
Turtles. Rufous-sided Tohees. Waxwings. They all make my mornin’ straphangin’ sojourns to the great salt pond more enjoyable. It’s amazing what one can see while stumbling in a lethargic stupor of grogginess.
Possums. Squirrels. Raccoons. It never gets old. Not even when the coons come flying out of plastic garbage bins known here as Pelicans in the foggy dimness of pre-dawn. Well, it would be nice to know if they’re rabid as they fly three feet from my face, but that one rich dude sold us on not sweating the small stuff.
Egrets and herons stalk the ponds of our coastal ecosystem as ducks and cormorants fly overhead. It’s all almost to beautiful to behold.
Two years ago, while walking to my second home, a screech owl spied upon me from a rotted out knot in a live oak. Aware that I was infringing upon its neck of the woods, I paused just long enough to watch it juke and jive, its head swiveling about, its eyes flashing the reflection of the rising sun.
Life is good, people. It’s what we make of it. It’s what Ra and nature have provided for us. Life is good.