I realize how insensitive the title of this blog is. Especially if you, or someone you love, has recently had one of your limbs ripped off by a shark. It’s not entirely unlikely, given how many times a day I hear about it on the news lately.
In fact, it was pretty much all I heard about in the week leading up to our annual beach vacation. Reports of 5 1/2 feet long sharks eating unsuspecting tourists; Heroic Dads who punched out sharks to save toddlers; and of course the well-meaning (but obviously jealous) friends who only said, “watch out for sharks!”
Despite the hype, and despite the fact that my children basically lived out in the middle of the ocean most of the week, we did not see any sharks. We did see a flying squirrel, though. And a giant, Jurassic Park-style lizard that I swear to you would have eaten our entire family if not for Thomas’ calm, cool corralling of the reptile to get it OUT of our condo.
But back to the flying squirrel. Let’s start at the end of this story, when Cate came downstairs about 8am Tuesday morning and asked, “Mom, why were you screaming so loud this morning?”
“That was me,” John admitted.
Earlier, after a nice stroll on the beach at about 6am, John and I had come back to the condo to have some coffee/tea. We sat out on the back patio so we wouldn’t wake up all the lazy people (our kids, my parents). Please note: so we would not wake up the sleeping family. As we sat there discussing the meaning of life and other deep topics (or maybe it was whether or not we needed to buy more beer. I forget), we noticed several squirrels, way up in a tree, chasing each other.
“Are they fighting?” one of us asked the other.
Suddenly there were six squirrels, all dashing around and obviously fighting. I had a brief moment where I recalled the scene in Monty Python & the Holy Grail where the tiny bunny leaps onto people and attacks. And then suddenly…a squirrel was free-falling, from about 100 feet above us, directly over us.
There was screaming. And then we did that thing that people do when they are scared and in shock and we sort of just grabbed each other and hopped around for a second. Then we ran back into the condo. Screaming the entire time. The bright side was that then everyone was up and ready to start the day.
The rest of the week was actually quite nice (see super-fun photo collage below). We took a family bike ride every morning; I spent hours at the beach re-reading my favorite novel from college (Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises), which took on new meaning now that I can actually relate to mid-life angst; we had ice cream, climbed to the top of lighthouse, sent Henry and Cate on their first solo sojourn around Sea Pines on the trolley, and generally had a typically wonderful, traditional Hilton Head vacation. A highlight was definitely the beer tasting at the Fisters/Elsers house, where we caught up with favorite friends and enjoyed rating Bryan’s carefully arranged selection of fine beverages.
Then one day we came back from the beach, or somewhere, and there was a visitor.
There was more screaming. But we had a plan: John would prompt him to run toward the door and I would lift the rug in order to block him from going anywhere but outside. It wasn’t that big of a lizard. But in the heat of the moment, when it was running toward me….well, you know the scene in Jurassic Park where the T-Rex is running toward them? That’s how it felt. So I dropped the rug and off went the lizard to choose a room in our condo for the rest of his stay.
Luckily Thomas was able to channel his inner Steve Irwin. He calmly told us all to move out of the way (which was not a problem since Cate was crying hysterically at the top of the stairs, and the other three of us had scattered as fast as we could. Then he spoke to the lizard, systematically moving him toward the door while explaining that we were not taking any more roommates. Afterward, he made fun of the rest of us.
And I mean, what is there to make fun of?
Perhaps my 1980s inspired high-humidy hair? nah.
So yeah, our week was filled with wild animal encounters. But hey, at least we weren’t shark bait.