Of Critters and Swimming Pools, and Gators

Of Critters and Swimming Pools, and Gators 
3 June 2012
Summer hits and all I can think of is swimming. But we don’t have a swimming pool. There’s a pretty good reason for that. 
This morning I watched video of a raccoon swimming laps in a guy’s backyard pool. With our record of animal abuse, (They abuse us, not the other way around. Like the titmouse who raps on my office window ALL day.) a pool might not even end up being ours to swim in.  
Clearly our wildlife fully subscribe to the theory that they were here first, and we need to learn to live with them. Peaceful co-existence? Doesn’t that mean they have to give some too? I’m keeping count, and not one critter (aside from NikkiCat’s generous presents of his fresh chipmunk sushi) has shared food with us. Not one has offered to drive in to town and hit the grocery store for us. I’m daily refilling the sunflower in the feeders, corn thrown out for deer and turkeys, and putting water in the ‘baths’. But I’m dead sure that titmouse is not pecking at my office window to ask for my grocery list. 
I’ve been there, done that with swimming pools and critters. The first home we owned, in South Florida, had a pool. It was screened-in including the surrounding patio. Which kept out mosquitos and gators. Including those pesky Univ. of Florida Gators, GO Florida State. Go Seminoles. (Yes.The Prince Consort and I are graduates of FSU. Seminole fans. Can you tell it’s college baseball championship season? ) 
So, first pool: all human all the time. Well, except for toddler-Professor Daughter and her blow-up critters and arm-floaties.. 
When she was seven we moved North. All the way to Central Florida, to ... you guessed it, Gator country, home of Univ. of Florida- Gainesville, Fl. One of the best places I’ve lived for wonderful people and a town that was perfection for raising a family. Who knew? 
Anyway, the Gainesville home had a tall fence without screening over the pool. So we had trespassers. I never caught the raccoons in the pool. But The Prince Consort scooped out one tired armadillo. The armadillo was doing laps okay, but when it came to retracing his ‘steps’ and getting to the steps he’d used to get in the pool ... not so much. 
Two houses later Professor Daughter was an undergrad at Vanderbilt and we were back in Florida, Tallahassee this time. Go Seminoles. Another house with a pool, high fence, and no enclosing screening. And lots of visits by animals. (There will be no Gator or Seminole jokes at this juncture. Although I will admit my father and I daily exchanged threats that I would mail him stylish plastic flamingos for his Southern California pool, and he would return the favor by sending me truly tasteful yard art in the form of gators.)
This was my first pool-for-dummies. In so many ways. It was the first pool we’d owned that had a long lasting vinyl liner instead of the usual poured hard surface. Something to do with the composition of the earth and the propensity of hard-lined pools to crack. That would be realtor talk for- it is what it is. 
Anyway, soft pool walls appealed to me. Magically my headaches diminished. Better than aspirin, not bashing your head into the end of the pool as you finish another overly enthusiastic lap.  
I wasn’t the only one who liked the pool. 
My morning ritual started with chemical balances and filter, then check the pool for visitors. After coffee:
Extract the bat who thought napping in the skimmer was a really good idea. An idea he would have revised once I was thrashing around in the water and flooding his previously dry perch. 
Show the coachwhip snake over the fence, again. The third time he decided maybe the lake across the street was an okay idea. 
Ignore the two vultures who perched on the house roof watching me far too intently. Since they are carrion eaters, I can only guess they thought my daily version of swimming was eventually going to result in a delicious drowning, dinner. 
Ignore the squirrel who ran along the fence beside the pool expressing a rude opinion on my interrupting her peaceful 43rd meal of the day at the BIRD feeder. 
Fish out the frogs who seemed to be dropping out of the sky and ending up on the bottom of the pool.
Until the day of the ‘duck’. 
When I wake, I NEED coffee. Period. I can’t see. I’m not human. Don’t talk to me unless you are holding out a hot cuppa. So the morning I stumbled out of the bedroom headed for coffee and blearily saw the duck sitting on the pool surface, I really wasn’t going to stop for the duck. 
Except, like I said, Professor Daughter was at college, there were no floaties, duck or otherwise in our pool.  Rubbing at my crusty eyes, I stepped out onto the deck. I was right. Not a floatie. Not a duck.  A hawk. A pretty p***ed off hawk, if tightly pursed beaks mean anything. Who knew they could float? 
I got the pool scoop, (Which is sold to pull leaves off pool surfaces, but anyone with a pool will tell you that’s only about 50% of what you have to scoop.) The hawk and I kept eye contact as I slid the net under him and lifted. 
He drilled me with eyes that only the mother of a teenager would know. This was all my fault. If he could, he would have rolled his eyes and sighed. I hefted him up and placed him on top of our fence. He sat there, now refusing to look at me. If I wasn’t going to take responsibility, then fine. 
 So, I went for my coffee. When I got back, he was still dripping, still on the fence, and now staring into the pool. 
Mystery solved. Another frog, not swimming, on the bottom of the pool. Slippery prey and a hawk who had decided that morning to go down and get that darn frog= one p***d off and very wet hawk. 
Because the house we live in currently is in the woods, along the river, I don’t like the odds. While KY does not have gators, (that I know of, although we do have a Gator down the road) we do live alongside and with LOTS of critters. Critters who have let us build a house to live in but have given up no property rights: turkeys, deer, red and gray squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, possums, coyotes, foxes, skunks, snakes, moles, mice, beavers, birds of all kinds.
So. Short of blasting a hole in the house and putting a pool inside, I am not going to battle with the plethora of critters who’d be hanging around the ‘cement pond’. Summer without swimming. 
Kath, who is semi-seriously thinking about a trial run with a blow- up pool. Just to find out minimum size needed so that there still might be room for me. 


  1. What a crazy story! I do hope you get to swim sometime this summer. By the way thanks for stopping by my blog :)

  2. Folks in our area had a mama bear and her cubs enjoying their pool . . . daily.

  3. Thank you, Shelli.
    Vicki! Thankfully, we supposedly do not have black bears in our area. And I don't want to find out. But isn't that mama bear smart to cool her cubs down. Not great fishing while playing in pool water, but way smart.


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