I don’t think it’s come up in conversation with you, but I am not what you'd call an “outdoorsy type.” I would rather hike through the pages of a good book than along a trail. I grew up in the country, practically the middle of nowhere, so you’d think I’d have an appreciation for the great outdoors. Nope. When my mom would force me outside, I would often take a book and sit and read on the front step, when I wasn’t convincing my little brother that it would be epic if he’d take his Big Wheel and do a Dukes of Hazard style jump off of our 6 foot tall front porch railing. Since that story has lasted well over 25 years, I’d say it was epic, indeed!
All of this hasn’t changed much as I’ve gotten older. I do have an appreciation for nature, but hiking and bird watching aren’t my thing. That being said, we have gotten to live in some amazing places when it comes to nature. Our last home was in Monterey Bay, California. We saw whales, otters, sea stars, and more in the wild. Sri Lanka is really determined to one up that. We have seen monkeys and monitor lizards in the wild. My kids have held newly hatched sea turtles. Gertrude Bell even got to take one fresh from the sand to the tank. The International Man of Intrigue and I saw a giant saltwater crocodile swimming down a river once when we were driving. It still makes my stomach turn, as I’m not entirely sure it wasn’t this guy, although I do think the one we saw was bigger.
So now we’ve established that Sri Lanka is an amazingly biodiverse ecosystem. The really interesting part is that our house is as well. Just before I sat down to type this, I was rocking Arthur Dent to sleep before his nap and I could see a parrot out in the tree. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the really interesting biodiverse ecosystem lives inside of our house. There are all kinds of bugs, including mosquitos, ants, and, most disgustingly, roaches. Once, I ran downstairs to let our gardener in to sweep the balcony. When I ran back up the stairs to our family room about forty seconds later, Arthur Dent had a tropical roach clutched in his little hand. I screamed and grabbed him, but I couldn’t bring myself to pry his fingers open and touch the roach. I shook his arm at the elbow and shrieked . The gardener looked at me like he wasn’t sure whether to offer assistance or go sweep. He finally raised one eyebrow and headed out to the patio. I’m sure he was thinking, “There’s a whole lot of crazy in this house.” Eventually, after a grueling 10 seconds or so, Arthur Dent dropped the roach and I took him to the bathroom to scrub his little hand until it was pink and germ free.
We also have little geckos that live all over the house. Arthur Dent delights in them and points and babbles every time he spots one. The rest of us enjoy them as well. I say, as long as they promise to enjoy the all-you-can-eat mosquito buffet our house offers, they are more than welcome to stay.
As I type this, the landlady’s henchmen are on the roof and the wraparound balcony trying to seal up the holes that are allowing tropical squirrels (which look a little like chipmunks) to nest in our attic and family room. Yes, adorable little tropical squirrels have taken up residence in our house. One day one was running industriously back and forth from a little hole high up the wall in our family room, along the rafters, through our bedroom and into our bathroom and presumably up to the attic. Gertrude Bell exclaimed, “Get me a ladder and I will climb up and catch it!” I sighed and hoped the thing wasn’t about to have babies in the wall. Last night after The International Man of Intrigue and I went to bed, we could hear the squirrel chirping in the attic. My big fear today is that the landlady’s henchmen have sealed up the openings to the outside without driving out our little friend. The last thing I need is a dead squirrel in the attic. I much prefer my attic squirrels alive, thank you.
The final animal I want to tell you about doesn’t live in the house. She’s my favorite, though. She’s some sort of tropical bird whose loud call is pretty distinctive. She must be semi-nocturnal, as I sometimes hear her during the night when I’m awake with Arthur Dent, and she used to wake me up every morning at the crack of dawn, rooster style. Since she has such a distinctive call, and try as I might, I’ve never seen her, I named her Kevin. The International Man of Intrigue finds my naming of Kevin alternately amusing and crazy. (Luckily, he also finds my particular brand of amusing and crazy to be irresistible.) I’m thinking of trying to catch a glimpse of Kevin by baiting her with chocolate. I’ll keep you posted.