Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Retirement unparadise

It rains as much in Jacksonville FL as it does in Kodiak AK. The difference is that it rains bucketfuls at a time here. Flooding roads and yards and filling creeks rapidly. There is a threat of thunderstorms most days in the summer with heavy downpours. The rain pours down without warning. The downpours are usually short but the past couple of days there has been constant rain. The rain is welcome as it means the heat drops about ten degrees - until the sun returns and it feels like you live in a steam bath. All this wet weather means frogs and there are all kinds of them here. Cute, little frogs come hopping out at night, sticking themselves to the sides of the house, and trying to jump in the house when you open a door. Then there are the big bullfrogs you hear barking in the creeks. Early every morning when I get up it's like a choral song service brought to you by the local frogs. One night when we were working on the house I thought a neighbor was blasting rap music from a boom box. When I went outside, I realized it was a concert of several frog rap groups. Not to put down rap at all; it was quite amazing and wonderful. The wet conditions bring out other marshy creatures, as well. Our neighbor, who is the local termite exterminator, set off some smoke bombs in the back yard yesterday. It was to ward off black snakes, he said. He had seen a couple when he was mowing. It won't kill them, he said, they keep the poisonous snake population under control. And he warned, watch out when you're mowing out back and keep your garage door closed because they tend to come in uninvited. I don't mind the snakes or frogs but there are other insects that bother me, like the flying cockroaches called Palmetto bugs which sounds exotic but they are still cockroaches, and they can get around fast with their wings. There are biting yellow flies and fire ants. Walmart sells shelves of an insecticide that is part of every homeowners insect fighting arsenal. You spray it regularly around the perimeter of the house, outside and inside, as an insect barrier. The ants are up to the challenge. Who ever said Florida was a retirement paradise was not familiar with Genesis 3 (spoiler alert: there is no paradise this side of heaven).