Life and adventures in The Hedge. Because you NEED an alligator in the backyard

Archive for April, 2011


           My cat Edwin is probably the most colorful character in the hedge. Edwin got his name from the Olivia picture books.  According to the vet, Edwin is a male domestic shorthair. According to experience, Edwin is a small puma. Edwin is pretty much the size of a small dog and occasionally acts like one.

            Edwin showed up last summer.  We already had a neighborhood stray cat – Wilma. Wilma is the world’s least friendly cat. Edwin came along – this big friendly creature. Edwin would walk up to me and get on his hind legs to reach my hand and get himself petted. Edwin was the “talkiest” cat I ever met.  We would walk outside and Edwin would come running – meowing his fool head off!

            Edwin is also in love with our dog.Savannahis an 11 year old Sheltie, a mini Lassie.  When Edwin mysteriously appeared last summer, he began walking withSavannah. While I had never seen this pre-hedge, it is common here: The Cat Parade.  In the hedge dogs are escorted on their walks by cats. I would leadSavannah, who would be followed by 1-3 cats. Edwin was not content to simply followSavannah. Instead Edwin finds the need to walk next to the dog, while he rubs his head along the dog and her leash. If the dog attempts to sleep in Edwin’s presence, Edwin will snuggle up to the dog. The dog at times tolerates the indignity, but most of the time moves on to a new spot. Edwin firmly believes the dog is his soul mate. In fact, I have even found the cat inside the dog’s crate.

            Edwin continues to talk. He has a very distinct double meow meaning “let me in NOW.” I am sure the neighbors love it at 5 am on a Sunday as much as I do.  The other cat, Kallie has very little to say. She merely announces her arrival. Edwin tells me he must leave immediately after eating. I am informed if the food dish is empty. If I have been away too long and he’s been waiting for my return, I’ll hear about it.  Edwin surely wants to get himself noticed. 

            He’s been to the vet and checked out. But I wonder if he has some sort of kitty asthma. He has an odd almost out of breath purr. He will run at him speeds and then I will see him panting. Since his first few years are a mystery, I don’t know if he’s always been this way or it was something that developed. It is strange thing, but we’ll take it along with his utter devotion.

            Edwin decided he must show his appreciation for being taken into our home. This morning I was greeted by a dead full grown mole. I have been showered with gifts of dead baby moles, bats,  a mocking bird, lizards, skinks, and oddly enough a leaf bug.  He sits by our tree and guards the house. I am not sure what interlopers he has run off. I only see the wounds, pink scrapes on his grey nose, blood in his coat, fur torn out. Edwin is our fierce protector.

            On the quirky side, he likes to pounce upon the keyboard. He’s posted a few random statuses on Facebook and frozen my computer.  When he first got here he broke into the cat food cabinet, but not for food. Instead he was after the catnip. I have to keep catnip in the freezer now. He’s a dare devil going places no other cat would imagine. He likes to sleep in the bathroom sink – which is a task for a small puma. I found him walking on a shelf I thought was out of the realm of cats. Apparently, nothing is out of Edwin’s realm.  

            I think he likes living with us in the hedge. I’m sure this is a great place to be a cat. Stalk things all night and sleep in a safe home all day. Food is never in short supply. I wonder though about his past life. I suspect he was abandoned. He shows a certain amount of anxiety when we all walk out of the house and take the dog. He must follow us to the bus stop in the morning. It is as if he’s afraid we’ll all walk away and not come back. I can leave in the car, but if the dog leaves with us, Edwin follows or cries. I wonder how bad things have to be for someone to walk away from such a loyal companion.  I pray to never be in a position where I would walk away from the pets that give me unconditional love.


Day and Night


I have to admit the best time in the hedge is sunrise. The little bit of time where the sun has risen to cast daylight on the world. Yet the sun has not risen quite high enough to be a blaring spot light.

This time of day the hedge seems calm and peaceful. Birds sing. Water drips from roofs. A mist sits over the water.

These precious few minutes each day are what the brochures are always written about – the calm and peace.

I really do enjoy this time of day. I can bring my work out on the back porch and have those few moments of living in paradise we all seek.

Then give it a few moments and reality comes screeching in. The sun comes over the trees with a blinding intensity. Cats run screaming past having a territorial war. “Do not threaten to steal my food or mess with my portal.”

The train roars through shaking everything. Everything comes fully awake. The sounds of the lawn crew come in and destroy any quite that is left.

Day comes to the hedge.  Busyness abounds. Dogs run away…owners yelling after them. Squirrels scream at all interlopers. Cars drive too fast.

Day almost seems normal – unless there is an alligator to freak you out. Last week was the major freak out day over the alligators.

Try engaging in a conference call while an 8ft bull sits on your lawn roaring. I know he’s just trying to court his lady. But when the window rattles because of his bellow it can disrupt your day.

The sight of a second VERY large alligator did throw me off. I was considering calling Fish and Wildlife to have him removed. Honestly though, I was waiting for my daughter to return from school. I wanted her to get to see the big monster on the lawn. Alas, the roaring of the alligator had freaked out another neighbor. 

We came home to the trapper. In his waders with a bang stick…and a fishing pole? The fishing pole I’m still not sure exactly why he had a fishing pole. I will tell you this trapper was not worth his salt. He was going to be happy to just remove one alligator.

“If I get the female, the male will probably just leave.”  Great. Leave the huge monster lurking around.

In reality in the 6 days since the trapper appeared he has only made things worse. You see alligators are smarter than I ever gave them credit for. Since the trapper came no alligator has laid out to sun on my shores. My yard has the sunniest patch of grass in the whole hedge. I am not sure where they are sunning themselves. The alligators are hiding.

All I know is at least one of them is still here.

Last evening I looked out on the water to see the head and back of one gator floating about on the water. In the late day sun, the bump of his eyes looked to be this odd pinkish color. It was an eerie but almost beautiful sight.

Darkness sets in – the worst time in the hedge. You can’t see what is going on around you. Yes, you can take a flashlight and try to shine the gator. When you spot him that feels good. I can have a stare off & feel okay letting the dog out. But it is when I can’t find him that freaks me out.

Last night he wanted me to know he was still here. I turned on the light and opened the door then shined the flashlight; the post darkness ritual when letting out the dog. No gator in sight. Then he decided to croak. It was like he was saying – “you betcha I’m still here!”

I haven’t been able to see the full gator. I’m not sure if I still have one or two. I know I have at least one. But last night I did not hear a response to the croaks of love. Perhaps, one gator has finally been removed.  What does that leave me with for options? Two gators = baby gators. Female gator = another male coming to mate. Male gator = a heartbroken male on the move to find a new mate. I can’t say I like any of the options.

Most of the night sounds in the hedge don’t freak me out. I get the hooting of owls. Dislike the screaming of raccoon wars. Not sure what makes the monkey-like sound. In the end, I’m okay with all those things. It is the crafty reptile that worries me in the dark. I know he likes to hunt in the dark. Night will be an uneasy time in the hedge until the croaking ends and I know that they have moved on or been captured.

Hedge Neighbors

No home is complete with out at least one crazy neighbor. The Hedge comes complete with crazy neighbors and people I cannot figure out.

            My newest hedge-mate qualifies as a little off. I would call him flat out crazy, but he’s both intelligent and informative. Perhaps, he’s just a boy who never grew up. We’ll just call him Fishing Dude.

            Fishing Dude is VERY into creatures. Apparently he has a reptile store, which explains almost everything.

            There’s been a new alligator in the hedge, the latest in a series. (The Hedge goes through alligators list my ex goes through women.) This alligator comes in around 4ft., which is enough to scare me silly. Not Fishing Dude – he’s tried to get into the lake to catch the alligator. Okay, not so much to catch the little dinosaur, instead he wants to play with the gator. Yes, you read that right.  Fishing Dude wants to play with the alligator.

            Call me crazy, but playing with an alligator that happens to be almost my size is NOT my idea of fun.

            The thing is all the kids love when Fishing Dude is around. This is where that whole educational and informative aspect comes into play. Fishing Dude has led the kids on hikes around our pond; pointing out all kinds of fish in our pond -bass, gar, tilapia and more. Fishing Dude has taught my daughter to cast a net and how to correctly pick up a live fish. This man has let my girl see a gar up close, touch a turtle and, her helped identify an animal skeleton.

            I have watched him tromp around the lake with the kids at night – headlamps on – looking for critters. I cannot imagine letting my 3 year old stand 5ft from an alligator in the wild. Visions of a snatched kid dance through my head. Fishing Dude has done just that – and was very confident that the alligator would run away. He was right.

            Fishing Dude lets the kids get up close to wildlife. He touches fish. He chases alligators.  Fishing Dude does about a million things my girlie un-outdoorsy self would never consider.

            But Fishing Dude is a dad. I’ll give him credit for being a truly involved dad. I’d bet his kids look forward to their visits to their dad. Fishing Dude is a little eccentric and not what I would want in a husband. At the same time, I envy his ex-wife because this man REALLY wants to be with his kids.

            Yes, he’s 17 kinds of crazy, but a good kind of crazy.

            I see him out there on a Saturday night with his kids and his roommate’s kid. This little band is having a blast. My child is inside made because her dad blew her off one more time.

            I think about how really lucky those kids are to be playing out in the hedge with my crazy neighbor. When they knock on the door to see if my daughter can come out, I let her grab a light and venture out. I’m the protective mom, so I sit outside until they finish the adventure. My daughter returns dirtier and happier.

            In the end, there are some kinds of crazy this world could use more of – and crazy about kids is one of them.

Real Cat-lives of the Hedge

I understand now why cats were the pets of royalty in ancient Egypt. Normal people who want to accomplish anything should not have cats.

I’m attempting to write this post as my cat attempts to eat my right thumb. The past few days have led me to believe cats are out to destroy the world.

They really are quiet subtle at first.  Calico Cat is the perfect example.  Several time during the night things will go crash jolting me from a sound sleep. A pill bottle knocked off the bathroom counter at 3a.m. is as effective as a minor explosion.  End result – you’re bolt upright in the bed.  6a.m. alarm sounds. Sleep deprived Hedgemama hits the snooze. Finally I give in turn on the morning news & wait for the weather.  Since this is Florida the evening news man has often been delusional and the weather is significantly different from expected particularly in the spring.  This is the signal for the evil plot of Calico Cat to move into the next phase. The purr.  As the human struggles to awaken, the cat comes along to snuggle up.  The purr of a cat is very soothing The purr must be battled with secondary alarms.  The goal of the warm snuggly purr is to send the human back to sleep.  Causing chaos in the human world is the ultimate goal of the feline race.  If the plan of Calico Cat worked – I would be late every morning.

Working in tandem with Calico Cat is the Big Boy cat. Big Boy has his own fixed schedule, used to drive the human to the brink of insanity. Big Boy screams to be let out during the last few precious moments of sleep. Big Boy cannot be ignored. He will meow loudly, if that does not work he will jump on and off the bed. Weighing in at around 20 pounds…it is a large thump when he pounces.

Big Boy follows a schedule: In: 6:30 a.m. Out 6:32, In 7:20 out 7:22, In 8:30 out 8:32  – you get the idea. He’s impossible to ignore.  So my work gets regularly disrupted each morning.

A few times a day there is an attack on my keyboard. The whole working from home – connected to my keyboard for hours on end annoys the cat balance of power. Big Boy feels he must replace the keyboard – standing upon it at every chance. He successfully locked me out of my work program this week.  I am sure he was secretly chuckling about his success in completely shutting down work for over an hour. He pushes the keyboard out of they way. Today he staged an attack on the open container of humus on my desk. I was able to foil the grasping paw. While Big Boy comes on and blatantly attacks the keyboard, Calico Cat is more subtle. Calico Cat instead heads for the lap, making reaching the keyboard difficult.  Writing about the secret mission of the cats to destroy the workplace got my hand bitten this morning.  The cats are rather distressed that I am making public their current plot.  They are out to cause a complete work stoppage.

The problem is however, if I can’t work who is going to pay for the cat food?