Friday, February 25, 2011

Foreigner Friday: Coyotes and Armadillos and Alligators, Oh My!

When I first moved to the States, I became fascinated by the wildlife here. It is fabulous, but also sometimes a little scary. Not only is the climate very different, the entire flora and fauna are still a total mystery to me. There are so many plants and animals here that I have never seen before.
Living in SC, we have pretty much everything that creeps and crawls- nasty insects, huge spiders (I have a bad case of arachnophobia), venomous snakes, weird looking mega rats that are called Opossums with a silent ‘O’, etc. They are not just hidden away and you have a vague idea of their existence. They are everywhere you go. I remember finding the skin of a rattlesnake in our mailbox one morning- I have since learned never to stick my hand into anywhere without looking first...
I went for a walk in a nearby state park with my dog. The further I got from the main path, the scarier and more unfamiliar it got. I felt like I was an explorer, making my way across undiscovered terrain. I sometimes wonder how it must have been for the settlers from Europe to arrive here and be confronted with all of these strange creatures. Can you imagine seeing an armadillo for the first time, not knowing of its existence? It must have been very scary.
Wildlife in Europe has become almost extinct. Some species are recovering from their near eradication, others are gone for good. I suppose that’s the price you pay for very dense population. So any time you saw anything remotely wild in Germany, it was a very big deal and extremely exciting. I remember coming across a small snake in the woods (non-venomous, of course; there is only one venomous snake native to Germany and its venom only causes slight discomfort…) and having a huge gathering of people around it, thrilled to find something so fascinating on their walk.
In South Carolina, people aren’t that excited about finding wildlife. I sometimes tell people in a thrilled voice about the coyotes and alligators that can be found in the reserve just down the road. They are usually confused by my enthusiasm. I think it’s fabulous! I can’t wait to show my parents when they come in the spring.
The US has so many beautiful spots. Americans are very lucky to have so much room and so many different climates. Your country is so vast that you can literally find any type of living environment you could wish for. My wish is that people will start to understand how lucky they are to have such an amazingly spectacular country to live in and that they will appreciate all the wildlife in it, protecting it from any harm. I hope we can preserve this natural beauty for all the generations to come!

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I both love and hate it here in SC at the same time for all the reasons you stated! My husband tries to convince my not to be afraid of snakes, and I know logically they won't bother me, but they are my biggest fear.