in the course of my 39 years on this blue marble, i have been lucky enough to see/be near a plethera, a veritable cornucopia of animals in their natural habitat without fences or cages or a car window between us.
and now for your reading pleasure, the animals i have seen, any notes as to when/how/anecdotes regarding the situation that we found ourselves in, and relative distances between me and them:
elk-my most interesting encounter with a herd of elk was when i was about 16 at a scout winter camp out. winter camping in the cascades consists of building a fire, standing around stamping the snow with your hands in your armpits, having a brief and deadly snowball fight, and then proceeding to curse the cold and snow for the rest of the weekend. my friends and i decided to hike up into the mountains to have something to do, and hopefully generate some body heat. we crested a rise, and not 20 feet in front of us, a massive heard of elk had come down from the peaks to be fed by the park rangers. "amazing" or "incredible" is just too piddly a word.
peacock-not sure where it came from, or why it swung through our yard, but one summer day, a peacock pretty much just magically showed up in our backyard. it hung out for about an hour so that we could take pictures and watch it be narcissistic. then it headed off to other parts. i got within a few feet. apparently in some asian countries, they eat peacock like we eat turkey. good thing my poor white trash family didn't know that...
crow-they say that if a crow is hanging around, someone is going to die. or perhaps a dead relative or friend is trying to send you a message. again, one summer day in our backyard, someone from the great beyond was trying to tell us "i'm hungry, bring bread." it actually ate out of my hand, we were that close. again, lucky for him crow isn't something that had occured to my family as tasty...
llamas-llamas are indigenous to argentina, and while i never saw any just in the wild all willy nilly, they were definitely around. never got close enough to get spit on though. shame, that.
monkey-monkeys are not really indigenous to argentina, but they are in the amazon. and while the monkey i saw in buenos aires appeared to be wild (hanging out in a tree above the road we were walking down and dancing from limb to limb), it is more likely that it was someone's errant pet. for that matter, it is likely the peacock and crow were as well... hmm, so i am kinda breaking my own rules, but no matter. this rather largish creature was probably about 20 feet away. thank god, cause apparently simians can't throw their shit that far...
moose-i have no shit been within ten feet of moose on several occasions. when my ex and i separated and she moved to... wherever the fuck it was she went, i don't give a shit; i would go running for miles in the evenings. my favorite run was up to the ski hill that would have snow on it in the winter, and try to chug up it as far as i could and then back down. quite frequently i would turn a corner and be immediately confronted by bull moose, or a mama and calf. i generally moved to the middle of the road (they were usually grazing in the ditches) and run slowly past with my eyes on them until they were far behind. due to the isolated nature of the situation, i would frequently say out loud: "i mean you no harm, i am just running here, and want only to get past unmolested." if you have ever seen how massive a bull moose is, and if you knew (like i did) that moose are the only animal of that sort that can also kick with their forehooves, you woulda said something along those lines too.
caribou-same as the moose. they were just fucking everywhere in alaska, and you couldn't help but run into them at close quarters. slightly larger than elk but considerably smaller than a moose.
black bear-i was about 50 feet from a mama and her cub. i was there long enough to snap a couple pictures and just sort of watch them from afar as it were. they could completely give a rat's ass about my existence on this planet let alone my nearness to them. and i am quite thankful it was a black bear and not a grizzly.
wolf-i was about a quarter mile away, and only saw him for the briefest of moments, but it was a for real wolf. undeniably.
fox-see "wolf." pretty much the same story, except the fox didn't beat feet as fast. and my recollections seem to lead me to believe i might've been closer to it.
buffalo-this is actually twofold, and i think both cases they were domesticated. one of the farms a mile from my house growing up raised buffalo. i saw them again in alaska, but i think it was the same situation.
an assortment of waterfowl-pelicans, et al. you can't spit without hitting one at the golf course here in florida where i was employed.
alligator-i got within 5 feet of fred to snap his picture while he sunned himself and pretended to not give a shit. one of my coworkers (who i would've gladly sacrificed) was between fred and myself.
bald eagle-i have seen these camping in mt rainier, all over the place in alaska, but i had to come to florida to get within 100 feet of one. got to watch him eat his dinner of brook trout in the middle of the 11th fairway.
dolphins-no i have not swam with dolphins (unless you count the dolphins swimming a half-mile off the shore where i was body surfing; i sorta don't cause under that same idea you could say i have also swam with sharks, deadly jellyfish, and sea turtles), but i went fishing at the banana river, and as i stood on the shore, about ten feet away in the shallows a dolphin was eating our prey. we moved to a different fishing hole, but not until we had gotten our eyeful of this beautiful creature.
loggerhead turtles-i have actually held a baby one in my hand. turtle turkelson. saved his happy little ass. but today as well, i swam out to see what was floating several hundred yards offshore, and got within 50 feet of a few fully grown (and fucking huge!) loggerhead turtles that were trying to woo each other. briefly, one of their flippers looked like a dorsal fin, and i thought i was going to get to add "swimming with sharks" to this list.
corn snake and black racer-i have had to shoo both out of my driveway/garage. corn snakes are very docile. black racers, while not poisonous, will shake their tail like rattlesnakes (about which i have a different story that doesn't fall into this category but which would still be a fun tell, so maybe next post) and are fucking strike crazy. i don't like the idea of getting bit at all, so i chased him away with a broom, which got bit in the bristles numerous times, and had to be put down.
there are probably others, o beloved non-existent readers, that i have either forgotten or deem too mundane to include. if i remember, next post i will talk about the rattlesnakes.