BLOG: Wildlife Watch

Here I am in sunny Florida. I’ve always wanted to see Florida. Mostly for the wildlife, but also because it is a magical mystery wonderland full of strange and ridiculous individuals. We are here because the family I am staying with had to come check on their house after 6 months in quarantine up north.

The flight was terrifying because it was packed full. As if flying wasn’t stressful enough as it is. We thought it would be empty since no one else was on when we booked and it left at about 7am. We also assumed the center seats would be empty for social distancing purposes. WRONG! Pro tip: Don’t fly with Frontier. They will find any and every excuse to charge you extra and make you feel unsafe.

And as I sat there, facing down the prospect of death, I thought to myself: What would Ernest Hemingway do? Easy. He would look that lion right in the eye, let go of his fear of death, and charge forward up the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro anyway. Yes, I do think he is a misogynist douchecanoe, but I also love Africa and admire his philosophy on not fearing death.

I asked myself what regrets I have in life, but I found little to work with. I have lots of goals and dreams to be sure, but if I died today, my last thought would be of Paris. I lived my greatest dream of living in Paris, even if it was only for a month. I went to the Paris Writing Workshop, sat on my balcony overlooking the iconic rooftops with the Eiffel Tower sparkling in the distance, and wrote every single day. It was truly the most wonderful time in my life. If I was dying, I would be at peace thinking of my brief time in my beautiful little studio in Saint-Germain. <3 <3 <3

But really, if I had to pick one regret in life, I would go back in time to the day I was banned for life from Bloody Mary’s Bar and throw that mimosa in the owner’s face. He deserved it. What a fucking jerk. I realize it’s sad that this is what I came up with, but I usually live my life with the philosophy that I could actually die at any moment and therefore I should seize the day. I did not seize the day on that particular occasion, but I definitely should have. If I ever have the opportunity again, I am 100% taking it. I have even more reasons to justify it now.

ANYWAY.

Onto better things, like why I’m excited to be in Florida. Obviously, we can’t do very much, but we can sit beside the pool and walk down the beach. I do not usually care to go swimming anyway. You might see me stick my feet in once in awhile, but I generally prefer to lie in the sun with a book. Mostly, I’m here for the animals. I love animals! Between Covid and Trump, I’ve spent a lot of time pursuing activities I used to love/enjoy as a child that alcohol, bad boyfriends, and mental illness managed to drown out. I’ve mentioned theatre, dance, and film a lot, but I haven’t mentioned animals. I used to LOVE animals! I still love animals! I could hang out with animals all day. You know Nathanial’s solo “I Go To The Zoo” from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? That is actually my life. Except now that I am older, I do not find zoos to be as wonderful as I did as a child for obvious reasons. But now I’m here in Florida and there are animals everywhere!

Thus, Betsey’s Florida Wilderness Wildlife Watch has officially begun. So far I’ve identified six different bird species, three different lizard species, a snake, three different types of ants, and lots and lots of dragonflies. There is supposedly a manatee/dolphin watch area nearby, which I am excited for. I’ve never seen them in the wild that I can remember! At least, not up close. I think we could see dolphins from a distance in Montauk, but I definitely don’t remember seeing them up close.

Oh, make that eight bird species! I just spotted two new ones in a nearby tree. I’m not even kidding when I say bird watching is my new jam. It’s so calming! It’s like all of my anxiety completely disappears when I’m watching them do my thing. The herons are my favourite. Yesterday I saw a both grey heron and a snowy egret out fishing in the neighborhood pond. The egret was right in my sight line, so I watching it the most. I was inspired by its patience. It sat there all afternoon, just watching, waiting for the right fish to come along for dinner. I probably watched it for about 45 minutes to an hour. I probably could have sat there all day.

The clouds are clearing and the sun is coming out again. We will probably go to the beach soon. Rest assured, I will let you know if I see any manatees and/or dolphins. But most of all, I want to see one of dem big Florida gators! Or even a small Florida gator. I’m not picky. I just want to see a real one. The last time I encountered a gator, it was at a restaurant in New Orleans. The gator was deep-fried and flavoured with a variety of Cajun spices, of course. It was tasty, but I’d rather see a living one. Naturally, I prefer to socially distance from any potential alligator frens, as I would with sharks, which would also be cool AF to see. I could go on for hours about why I love sharks. Sharks are the coolest.

Off now. Have a good day! I know I will, even if the rona gets me. I hope it doesn’t, if only because I cannot imagine life without a sense of taste. If I wanted to experience eating without tasting, I would just go vegan. All of the substitution products taste exactly like cardboard. No thanks. And with that thought, I bid you all adieu.

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