MY GORILLA HABITAT

I had just mowed my lawn and was standing on our back porch looking down at the finished work. It reminded me of something, but I couldn’t quite figure out what. It certainly didn’t resemble the outfield at Yankee Stadium or a fairway at Pebble Beach. It was someplace else that was much less attractive. And then it hit me.

I’d taken pictures at the San Francisco Zoo years ago. They pop up on my computer screen once in a while. I suddenly realized my backyard looks a lot like the gorilla habitat pit at that zoo. Visitors, standing behind railings, look down at the great apes lounging in the vegetation outside their shelter. My yard’s terrain and flora are quite similar to that zoo’s, a very natural, untamed setting with various types of unsightly anonymous greenery, chewed, not by noshing gorillas, but by my old noisy mower which is actually far more dangerous than any gorilla.

As for fauna, there are no gorillas of course and I don’t intend to adopt any to complete the picture. Dian Fossey, the “Gorillas in the Mist” author said the huge silver-backed males are extraordinarily gentle. Maybe so, but I’m sure my neighbors and their pets would be uneasy with my new tenants.

We do have an annual meandering black bear visit, but Smokey seems to prefer our lake shore area a block or so west of here. So mostly there are our resident squirrels who live off the million acorns falling from our big oaks and whatever they can steal from my bird feeders. Once in a while a wandering deer, a cottontail rabbit or a raccoon will pass through, denuding the gardens and tipping the garbage cans looking for leftovers. Skunks will stop over now and then. I rarely see them, but they have a way of letting you know they’ve been around, just something in the air.

Then, of course, there are the pesky lions who arrive every spring. You’ve seen them, the brightly-dressed ones, the dandy lions.

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