Most of the time we live a very sanitized domesticated life here in California. A life very different to the one I had imagined when coming out here. I'd heard about bears, sharks, mountain lions, coyotes, rattle snakes and black widows. I more or less expected them to greet me as I left the luggage carousel at LAX. Obviously I know now that those are the least of your worries in South Central LA.
Two days after LK and I met we went hiking up Jesusita Trail in the hills behind Santa Barbara. The sun was about to set and we were more or less the only people up there. We got to the top and took in the gorgeous views of the city below; the white-washed buildings with their red roofs, the ocean and islands stretching to the blue and gold horizon. LK cracked a couple of cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon (the signs were all there ladies, why didn't I run?), which promptly exploded from all the bumping up the trail. I immediately slurped what I could from the top of the can and LK said 'damn, you're my kind of woman'. *Sigh*. We paused, to take in the beauty of the moment and then he turned to me and said 'man, look at those lions'.
I must have literally gone 'wh-what?'. I do remember thinking, 'why aren't we running, should we run now? what about now?' I was just about to hurl myself off the ridge when he added 'we should have been surfing, not hiking'.
He was talking about lines of incoming waves, not lions. Lines not lions. The first of many, many verbal misunderstandings that have left him oblivious and me gathering fistfuls of sizeable rocks .
In the UK there is practically nothing in nature that can harm you. There is one poisonous snake, an adder, that I have personally never seen and my Mum and Dad have only seen once. Snakes are only active when it's sunny, thus making it even less likely to see a rare snake in the wilds of cloudy North Yorkshire. Other than that, nothing. The real James Herriot was knocked over by sheep, and I've heard tales of angry badgers, but that's about it. California has wilderness, and creatures with teeth and barbs and venom. We went to a party last week at an avocado ranch just outside Santa Barbara which is regularly frequented by bears. LK has seen mountain lions when fishing with his Dad. We used to have a black widow spider in the corner of our shower (think of that next time you reach for the Timotei). I also once trod on a potato bug when walking out of the bathroom of our 'studio' (converted garage) in Carpinteria. If I hadn't just been to the loo it could quite literally have scared the crap out of me, because have you seen one of these things?
Wow, that picture is about true to scale too. They are like ants on steroids. Urgh.
We've also come across snakes too, but they are fortunately few and far between.
Not so yesterday as it happens.
We got home from work, said goodbye to our nanny, shut the door and then five seconds later heard her scream, and then start banging on the door pleading 'fuck, shit,' bang bang bang 'God let me in, Jesus Fucking Christ'. We opened the door and she was laughing saying 'oh my God, there's the biggest fucking snake out there'. True, a two-foot long snake, was lying right across our path. Right here, where less than a week ago we took this picture of Anna on her first day at pre-school:
I know, cute picture, but there could have been a snake lurking in the shrubbery that very second!! And dear God those snakes can move fast. Not as fast as a nanny and a Mum holding a two-year old though. It sped straight towards us and we literally flew back in to the house. Anna thought it was hilarious, and now has a much-expanded vocabulary which I'm hoping she won't be using at her new pre-school.
God I hate snakes.