It’s no surprise I’m a lover of nature and animals. This predisposition was drummed into me from tender years onward. First magazine? Ranger Rick. Favorite books? Black Beauty and All Creatures Great And Small.  Pets? Dogs, rabbits, hamsters, sheep, horses, cats, fish, and probably many others I’ve forgotten. Family vacations? Hiking, camping, and animal watching in national parks. Only allowed TV shows (until my teens)? Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.

You see it play out here on Road to Joy, too: anyone that reads me semi-regularly knows Cowboy and Petey by name. If you browse through my top ten posts of all time, you’ll find cardinals, frozen elk, amorous frogs, and one-eyed Boston Terriers. I’ve worked on five books for May 2012 publication for the last two years, and one of them is . . . a collection of stories about animals.

It’s against that backdrop that y’all may understand why I love my home office in central Houston so much. Smack dab in the midst of all this concrete and traffic, my backyard is an animal and bird oasis. We have a three-level pond that attracts possum, squirrels, turtles, birds of every variety including red tailed hawks and pygmy hawks, and occasionally a rat, ew.

This past week, even my front yard was a menagerie. I had a baby salamander on the glass of my office window. There was a red-headed woodpecker on the tree closest to the same window, and really, those are rare sightings in our neighborhood. Then one day I looked up, and walking past my window five feet in front of me was a waddly possum, in the middle of the day. Since they’re nocturnal, this close up daytime view was pretty darn cool. I managed to catch his backsides on film.

And that’s all it took to make my week: a lizard, a noisy bird, and a fluffy rat with a big butt.



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