I set off for a little early morning exercise along the road to the beach, lined with neat houses and holiday apartments. It was still half-dark with the grey glow of the Florida gulf coast dawn just beginning to appear and all was quiet. Suddenly, in front of me, a smallish animal, about the size of a cat, scurried across the road. It had a pointed snout, a fat body and a thin rat-like tail. As I approached, it turned round and bared its sharp teeth. I edged away and tried not to look it in the eye. Eventually it turned into the shadows. It was a possum and the first time I'd ever seen a live adult. Usually you see them prone by the roadside. Hubby remembers finding one in a dustbin at home and shaking it out along with all the rubbish. That one turned and bared its teeth too.
The following morning, I took the same route at the same time. Just around the corner I heard a faint "click click" and a smallish animal trotted across the road. It had a long snout, a plump body, a thin tail.. Another possum? No, this one had wide bands around its body and looked for all the world like something eerily prehistoric, out of place on the tarmac road of a genteel Florida beach community. It continued on its way, uncaring and oblivious to me and disappeared under a raised manhole and down a drain. I'd just seen my first ever wild armadillo.
I found it rather exciting. We may think we've mastered the things of nature but the dawn still belongs to them.