Rabid critters are running wild around town. On the golf course, men have been attacked by crazed foxes, forcing them into paw-to putter combat. In the hospital parking lot, a rabid raccoon ran out of the bushes and bit a lady on her leg. This week, a crazed beady-eyed rat was seen staggering around our church parking lot.
We love to stroll down shady lanes and swing on porch swings. Golf is practically a requirement, so what are we going to do? Uncle Zepher got the rabies years ago from a possum caught in a trap, and before he could get the medicine that saved his life, he swears one of his eyes turned green — a lifelong reminder to respect nature, for sure.
Citizens are taking precautions against the scraggly, horrible looking beasts with weapons of all sorts— pepper spray is flying off the shelves. I’m careful with firearms since my family has a history of accidentally shooting themselves or blowing multiple holes in brand new garden hoses when they think it’s a snake, so when I worked in the yard last week, I opted for a giant knife. I practiced throwing it a few times and got pretty good at hitting targets. Keekee stopped by and after showing her how I could hit the crepe myrtle, said, “You’re going to cut your foot off before you’re bit by any coon,” but then asked where she could get a knife like mine.
At 2am, when I do my best thinking, I realized we have doggie doors that would be the perfect entryway for a sick critter to waltz right in to my house and gnaw my face off while I slept. My hounds would defend me but would also be attacked by the devil-coon and then I’d have to go to the hospital and my dogs would be dead. At the thought of my dead dogs, I worked myself into a little sniffle— because things are always sadder in the middle of the night. Bob woke up and said, “Are you crying?” “I’m afraid the rabid raccoons will come through the doggie doors.” That man is so brave, he just rolled over and went right back to sleep.
A few years ago, a beautiful red mother fox and her pups would trot down our street every morning. They would go into my neighbor’s yard where the mama would jump into the empty birdbath and curl up for a nap while her frisky little ones would wait below where they couldn’t reach her. Admiring her parenting skills, it reminded me of when I’d lock myself in the bathroom and the boys would bang on the door.
Animal control officials think people feeding the feral cats in town may have inadvertently attracted wildlife and aided in the spread of the awful disease. Until it’s under control, the scariest thing in town is to take your garbage can to the curb at night. In addition to the animals, there’s the new fear of being maced, stabbed, shot or kicked by your neighbors. Oh, the excitement of living in a small Southern town.
*— reports of rabies were very real, but have slowed down now and may be under control which is a great relief to us all. We can get back to shopping, watching our beautiful little girls twirl their batons and little boys frolic on the football fields. Life is once again beautiful in Fairhope. (but I’m keeping the knife close while I pick satsumas).