Sherlock Holmes and the case of the dirty pictures

“What are you looking at?” I inquire, innocently, of my very preoccupied wife as she squints at her phone.

“Poop,” she says.

“OK, then,” I reply.

If we had had that conversation at the beginning of the year, I might well have been shocked. Now, it seems quite routine.

The hills behind our new home.

You see, ever since we relocated to a rather remote housing development on the outskirts of Ventura County, we have been visited by a variety of animals that, shall we say, like to leave us presents.

Sherry has gone full throttle in her investigative work to determine who dunnit. And this modern-day Columbo is applying her data science background to gather and analyze all the facts.

“I think it’s a raccoon,” she says, in a not very convincing tone. “But it might be coyote. Yeah, I think it’s coyote.”

And a long discussion ensues.

The times have changed

We started this year living in a high-rise apartment in downtown Los Ángeles, overlooking the city, with views extending to the San Gabriel Mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. Our days and nights were filled with the L.A. Philharmonic, with shopping at local markets, eating out frequently, and touring museums.

Then, of course, the pandemic hit. And it seemed that the confines of a 2-bedroom apartment were closing in on us.

It had always been our plan to buy a home and the rental was simply an interim step. So, taking all precautionary measures with masks and hand sanitizer, we went on an intensive house-hunting expedition and in the span of a 6 weeks closed on a property and moved.

Our new domicile still seems spacious by comparison to our city life. We have a large patio, pool, our own hill with fruit trees. Even better, we have ideal weather and our property abuts an open space, where wildlife — bunnies, crows, coyotes, hawks — trollop amidst the cacti, oaks and wild grasses.

It was after only a few days in our new abode when we noticed a rather prominent deposit from one of these undomesticated neighbors. And then another. At first, we thought someone’s dog was loose in our yard. But after research and a little deduction, the Lieutenant figured it out.

Her conclusion: Our yard is the only one on the block without dogs. Coyotes seem to use it as a thoroughfare, without the hassle of their canine cousins complaining vocally ala barking and yelping. And, it seems, coyotes are fond of leaving obvious proof of their visits.

If that weren’t enough, these “prairie wolves,” as they are sometimes known, stroll the neighborhood at 3 a.m. and howl like nobody’s business. And we thought the midnight sirens and street racers in L.A. were loud.

So this is our life now.

We’re getting used it; in fact, enjoying it.

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