Oh, dear. Life in Hillmomba is so complicated. Just when you think you are well-versed in the local fauna, a new critter rears its unattractive head.
On the way home today, around 1:30 p.m., on the blacktop county road beside a creek, I almost ran over a writhing...twisting...THING. At first I thought it was a snake that had already been hit by a previous motorist. But it was not long and slim and whip-like, as any proper snake would appear. No. This THING looked like a lamprey. Perhaps you've seen them on TV, or in YOUR SCIENCE BOOK. They are thick and stubby compared to snakes. We won't go into their mouths as opposed to fangs. No sirree, Bob! But if you are feeling brave, you can look at this picture of a lamprey...if you dare.
I didn't see any teeth. I just saw a gray, writhing, stubby, snakelike critter flipping and flopping like one end of it was nailed to the pavement. It was about a foot long. I never want to see one again. I did not even slam on the brakes and back up and make The Pony get a picture. It was creepy.
But wait! Before we even got that far, another critterific incident befell us. There I was, minding my own business, having just driven through the green light all proper, coming up in front of The Voice of the Village, approaching my turn into their parking lot...when a gray furry animal darted this way and that in the roadway. He was feinting like a base-runner caught in a run-down, almost daring me to flatten his carcass.
"Huh," I thought. "That little squirrel is going to get smashed quicker than you can say 'Paula Deen in my front yard eating a lobster tail.'" I could not stop, nor could I swerve, having a left turn lane always full of cars going to Save-A-Lot on my left, and a rather deep drainage ditch on my right. I forged ahead. Squirrels are agile creatures. You don't see nearly as many of them flattened on the road as you do those lead-footed possums. I proceeded at my present speed. As I drew nearer, just before T-Hoe passed over the dancing daring rodent, I recognized that squirrel impersonator.
IT WAS A GRAY RAT!
Uh huh. A rat the size of a squirrel. Ratty tail, not puffy squirrel tail. This is the second time I have been fooled by a rat impersonating a squirrel. The first time was many years ago on the way to Lower Basementia one morning. That one was up on a power line, running along like a baby squirrel without a puffy tail. It was a bit disconcerting to discover a rat running to and fro between the Subway/Save-A-Lot building and my soda-providing Voice of the Village. I was trying to put that out of my mind when I saw the snake/lamprey. It takes a special kind of people to settle Hillmomba.
A land where rats are the new squirrels, and toothy aquatic parasites sway like charmed cobras.