Monday, September 2, 2013

Life Among Frogs & Bookmarks

My neighbor Manny was over late yesterday afternoon doing some touch up work on the grass outside the gate and during a pause over the idling lawnmower he pointed to the gap in his front teeth and said he found a guy that’s going to put a new tooth in next week or the week after, a guy—I didn’t hear the word dentist—that works out of the trunk of his Pontiac Le Grand and uses laughing gas as an anesthesia. Didn’t know what to say to that, my mind running with images of dentistry by way of a tire iron and Krazy Glue. 

Finding mouse droppings on the floor of the back porch recently, I set out a mousetrap, baiting it with a small piece of Boar’s Head herb chicken neatly wrapped around a dab of lo-cal peanut butter. Next morning the mouse trap was gone, disappeared, snatched up in a poof of nighttime magic. It occurred to me that the mouse might have been too big for the trap and undeterred by the snap of steel, but held by leg or tail dragged the trap and itself off to an emergency exit. I looked around the porch and soon spied the mousetrap upside down in a corner by the screen door. I flipped the trap over with a broom and couldn’t believe my eyes—a frog caught by the toes of one leg and still trying to hop away. I rescued the poor creature, figuring it must have brain damage after a night of that, and it quickly hopped out the open door, apparently uninjured.

Later, I stood for thirty minutes watching a lengthy black snake nosing around outside the back porch. I decided finally, judging by the way the snake pushed its nose into the leaf litter and small holes, that it was looking for a meal of insects or lizards. It paid me no mind as I stood back at least ten feet hoping not to alarm it. Best not to bother or kill these non-venomous snakes since they help keep rats, mice and bad snakes away. I haven’t seen any of the small rattlers around, even though the climate and geography are magnets for their breed. 

Days pass in my country jungle jumping with every kind of life save elephants and giraffe, a place that brings back to a transplanted city boy some of the small wisdoms that concrete, swimming pools and shopping malls forced us to either discard or forget. Live with them long enough and even the dullard will find a way to cope with mosquitos, diminish the ant bites, avoid the hairy caterpillars and manage the summer heat. I’m learning how to blend. 

I transplanted a big tub of mint to a spot just off the back porch three days ago. For a long time it was a beautiful, lush and bountiful plant happy and snug under the table situated on a beach patio. Starting out as a small $1.99 pot of mint from Publix, for some reason only science can explain, it went wild on that salty windblown spot just off the ocean. When I brought it here to the country it fell straight into a decline, turning scragglier by the week. Thinking it might be root bound I dug it out of the large tub and planted it beside a clump of purple lantana behind the camphor tree, then brought home another small pot of supermarket mint to plant as a bolster beside the ailing cousin. 

Squirrels are doing their best now to munch through the seed-packed magnolia fruit-cones that succeed the fall of the tree’s large white blooms. I try to dissuade the pesky varmints but they are tenacious devils. Put together in a bowl the fruit-cones have a certain beauty.


Bookmarks are something I’ve always thought you can never have too many of. Kindle and its electronic brothers have naturally gone a step toward making the old-fashioned paper bookmarks obsolete, but there must be more than a few of us who hope that never happens. There was a time before they went out of business that Borders offered its customers a series of very stylish bookmarks that I continue to use. Simple but bold, black and white lithographic designs characterize the bookmarks offered by Borders in its last two years of business. Only wish I had the full set of designs they produced. Below are three examples.

About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America