A lifetime ago, my friends and I took a sunset cruise out of Key West. As the boat eased out into the gulf, the skipper was spinning tales of dolphins who came swimming alongside, following him and his crew into deeper waters. Then he started to describe the rays who would leap out of the water, sometimes three or four at a time. It was at this point that the Colorado born and raised landlubber in me began to scoff. Not loudly, but a bit of eye rolling with my buddies. Flying manta rays. Right. At which point heard a splash and looked to my right. Hanging there in the air, a couple feet above the water, was a great leathery flying saucer. It hung there for a moment, just to be certain that I could recognize what I was, in fact, seeing: a manta ray leaping out of the spray. And me sitting there, stunned, with my jaw and camera in my lap.
I have no evidence of that aquatic display, save my memory of the experience.
Last week, I had a similar moment when my wife and I were sitting out on our patio having one last dinner on the deck before fall. We were enjoying cherry tomatoes in our pasta and diced cucumber salad we had grown in our garden. A rustle in the bushes in the far corner of our back yard caught my attention. Poking its nose around the branches of our lemon tree was a raccoon. The beast then clambered down the fence post, followed by another smaller raccoon. Then another. And another. A mother and her three babies began their slow parade across the stretch behind our lawn. I gestured to my wife, not wanting to scare the wildlife.
"What? Is it Fluffy?" She was referring to the cat that lives across the street. The one who makes a habit of flouncing over to our house, taking Fluffy's own sweet time to desecrate the final resting place of our beloved dog. My wife says that Fluffy is "visiting her friend." I know that Maddie would not agree. Nor would she sit still while a family of rodents trooped through her domain. Still, we sat and stared, caught up in the urban wilderness show. Eventually the little family made crept up into the blackberries on the other side. Which is where it occurred to my wife and I that these furry scoundrels may have been the culprits who had been sneaking into our strawberry patch, harvesting our sweet treats before they were completely ripe.
All just a part of the wonders of nature.
And missing my dog.