Ah, how I love nature. Regular readers of this space know my passion for running and penchant for spending quality time at our woodland campground. A top reason for both is my fondness for the sweet little inhabitants of those great outdoors.
Indeed, I love all God's creatures great and small. The beautiful, majestic deer, the unique blue heron, the adorable little chipmunks. So lovely.
What's that? Oh, well, yes, I concede that I've used this very spot to decry the vermin, er, I mean cute little rodents who take up occupancy in our camper from time to time.
OK, you got me there. But that's it. I love all other animals. Really.
Ooh, except seagulls. Listen, I told you about them. They are wicked, winged cretins who resent the fact that humans can order and enjoy French fries and funnel cakes at will.
I'm convinced that they actually have an aptitude (albeit limited) for strategic planning and can readily form swarms of swooping soldiers to attack any person wielding a morsel of anything remotely edible. They are rotten, I tell you! Um, I mean, misunderstood.
Oh, OK, fine. So they aren't exactly my favorite of the specimens Noah spared on the ark.
But, barring those few, I am a huge fan of wildlife. True.
Which is why I was so shocked a few weeks ago when an innocent-looking sparrow-esque bird with a cute little beak and some really long tail-feathers torpedoed between my shoulder and Kyle's as we strolled side-by-side through my sister-in-law's Florida neighborhood early one Friday morning.
"What in the ?" I said to the outline of my teenage son, who'd already begun a serpentine path back to the house doing about 87 miles an hour.
Then there was the trio of raccoons I encountered on an early morning run back here in the Mahoning Valley just a few days ago.
I couldn't even tell to which branch of the rodent family the three little critters belonged as I first came upon them from behind, careful to give them an extra wide berth as I approached so they knew I was friend and not foe.
I even smiled at the little bandit family, thinking for a moment how precious their little faces looked right up until the moment they each reared up on their hind legs and began hissing and clucking at me in a decidedly menacing manner.
"Dudes! Back off, I'm just getting in a few miles before work; chill!" I literally said, borrowing Kyle's maneuver to zigzag as I put some earth between them and me.
"Why are you even up at this hour, anyway? You're supposed to be nocturnal!" I said - well, not really. But I was thinking it as I finished up my last few miles in a time that was actually a personal record for me.
You're darned right I was scared! There are only a few reasons raccoons lumber leisurely down the sidewalk in the light of day, people, and none of them are good.
Anyway, so, seagulls, mice and raccoons. Yeah, that's it. The rest of the animal kingdom is all good with me.
Um, well, them and crows. Not only did I see a big black crow dive bomb a bald eagle right off the top of the cross dotting St. Charles Church in Boardman (proving my theory that they are minions of the devil, by the way) but there was also the nasty little crow that screeched so close past my head as I was chatting on my cell with my pal Chris Ruggieri of Warren yesterday that I punctured her eardrum.
Sorry, darlin'. Stupid bird.
Oh, forget it. Nature scares the bejeepers out of me. From now on, I'll enjoy all the creatures of the forest from the window inside my house or camper with my dog whom I truly, truly adore.
She's the only animal I can trust hey, did you hear something outside?
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist and a big old 'fraidy cat, which, by the way, are the only kind that don't freak her out. Send her your stories of animals gone goofy at email@example.com.