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Wild Things

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Animals don't abide by the arbitrary divisions of road, fence and property line. Just ask the deer I noticed standing by the side of I-40 one night. He and his kind were here first, and multiple lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic were not going to stop him from getting where he needed to go. Which, like all of his woodland buddies, means free-range roaming in the places they called home long before we did--even in the subdivisions of Cary.

There was the night I stared at the blinds over the kitchen sink and found a 5-inch praying mantis staring back at me. His enormous bug eyes followed me as I fetched a broom to usher him safely outside. Walking the dog another night, we noticed a scuffle in a nearby treetop. It was followed by the rapid fall of a hollowed-out bird carcass and the emergence of a well-fed hawk. Then, there was the day our cat carried a live bunny through an open window and released it in the living room. We spent the next eight hours tearing the house apart, rescuing the little critter at 3 o'clock the next morning.

Last summer I was stung by more bees than I can remember. They were ornery, we were told, because of the drought--reminding me that we don't have a clue about the side effects of global warming. We were also invaded by crickets--they came in through the floor vents, kept us company in the bathroom and gave the cat another run for her money.

Then there were the eight-legged critters that appeared after my wife screwed a blue Christmas-tree bulb into the night light. The next morning, we discovered a daddy longlegs spider loitering an inch or two away from the blue glow. In a shot progression worthy of Hitchcock's The Birds, we found two spiders the next morning, five the next day, then seven. Where did they come from? And what was their fascination with the blue light?

Visiting our mailbox last week, I noticed a pair of fuzzy bumblebees checking out a butterfly bush. On closer inspection, I discovered that they were hummingbirds--each no more than an inch long. The front lawn in also home to a fluorescent green garden snake, who makes rare but colorful appearances. And there's a lizard who suns himself with the petunias in one of our window boxes.

Tonight, I was playing on the floor with my two-month-old son when I noticed a bug leap out of his shirt. It was a baby grasshopper, just as jumpy as he was.

And you thought Wal-Marts were the only things growing in Cary.

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