Anyone who owns a swimming pool will tell you that they can be a lot of work. This is especially true if trees are in the immediate vicinity. Actually, the trees don’t even need to be close by…in our case leaves will travel for miles just so they can take a dive into our pool.
Our property backs up to a small pond so we get a lot more than just leaves coming our way. It’s as though we’ve posted a sign that says, “Free swimming lessons! Enter here.” After over thirty years I thought I’d seen everything in the way of uninvited critters grace our chlorinated waters. We’ve had numerous families of ducks with as many as seven ducklings. This has resulted in my husband becoming quite adept at fishing them out of the skimmers. They are beyond adorable with their yellow fuzzy bodies and soft peeping noises. While somewhat annoying it’s hard to fault them for ducking in. I don’t recall any goslings but certainly there have been any number of geese flying over the fence and into the pool. They really make a mess when you try to give them a goose, so to speak, to scare them on their way.
Aside from fowl there’s been an abundance of Amphibians…frogs and toads. These are a hearty lot and generally leap their own way out before the chlorine overwhelms them. Our reptile visitors are usually snakes and turtles. The asps we get, are, for the most part, of the black snake non-poisonous variety. Luckily I have a neighbor who is a snake aficionado. He has assured me that despite their nefarious appearance these vermin look much worse than their bite. What a comfort. Good news is he’ll come over and rid the pool of snakes as often as I ask. I’m certainly no fan of snakes so his intervention is much appreciated. The turtles range in size from the very tiny, which are totally cute, to the much larger variety that I find pretty disgusting. My husband has been successful using the pool net and a lot of elbow grease to extract the turtles. He then relocates them to the pond out back. This is much to our delight and probably the turtles, too.
Once in a while a wayward mole falls into the water and drowns. I apologize for applauding when this happens but that’s exactly what I do. If you’d see what they’ve done to our yard you would perhaps understand my callousness. In fact, I’d be thrilled if more moles blindly found their way into the deep end.
So as familiar as all of the above visitors have become it was with much dismay that I discovered a new guest, quite different from all the rest. There lay Pepe La Pew in the deep end of the pool. His tail was fanned out and you could see the lovely white markings running down his head and back. He was definitely not going for a swim. I’m afraid, even though skunks can swim, because of their slightly webbed toes, they don’t see very well and are poor climbers. So once in the pool, he wasn’t able to scramble out.
I’m sure his demise came overnight. I had looked at the pool the day before and it was void of any creatures. Now, the dilemma was how to get him out. And then what to do with the body after retrieving it. (I wondered if his presence would make the pool water smelly.) Fortunately, there was a worker bee at our house and he offered to fish the animal out. His first two attempts failed but the third time of scooping underneath and then dragging it up the side of the wall was a success. He sorta flipped it onto the deck so we could get a good look. I suppose we’re all weirdos for wanting to experience a poor dead skunk up close but that’s what we did. The nice man asked for a big plastic bag and then maneuvered the lifeless body inside. He twisted the top closed and drove off with Pepe. This kind of experience really stinks. Ken and I were more than grateful to be rid of the pest and speculated about what we might find next. The answer to that came two days later when we stepped out on our front porch to put up the American flag. Perched in the middle of the porch was a HUGE mama turtle with her head poked out. She was obviously looking for a place to lay some eggs and took the “Welcome” sign in front of the door quite literally.
Her displacement was no obstacle for Ken. He picked her up with a couple of fingers on each side of her shell and walked her back to the pond. She peed a bit but that was to be expected. In passing by the pool I heard him suggesting to her that she not head any where near it on her trek back up into the yard heading for the house. He was absolutely certain this was going to happen. Since all turtles, of the same size, look basically alike we couldn’t be sure it was her again but the second turtle that day seemed quite comfortable on the “Welcome” mat.
Read Cindy’s column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette.