Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Peacocks Are Meowing Again

Florida is known for many things: warm winter weather, miles of beaches, Disneyworld and the cosmopolitan city of Miami. There’s also a dark side: wildfires, hurricanes and swamps teeming with alligators and boa constrictors. Not to steal the spotlight from fellow Steel Magnolia Press writer, Phoenix Sullivan and her Vet Tech Tales: The Early Years, but living in Florida, I’ve encountered all manner of wild beasts.
Parrots, escaped from their owners, flocked to the mango tree in my back yard every morning at dawn, feasting and fighting over the fruit with their raucous cries. One year, my children weren’t allowed to play outside until a female cougar and her cubs had moved to a new hunting ground. An importer of tropical plants brought in Madagascar Day Geckos along with the pots of flowers. My family named the pair of lizards who lived in the downspout of the gutters on the house Spot and Dot. As they called to each other in the night with an echoing moan, I wondered who had ironically named them day geckos.
Recently, I moved to Orlando where the wildest creature I expected to encounter was a squirrel. As I lay in bed listening to the whistle of the train that passes through the city center and the whine of jets from the executive airport nearby, I heard what I thought was the yowl of a stray cat, reverberating across the lake, or perhaps a parrot, mimicking a cat. Night after night, the sound kept me awake while I wavered between feeding the poor cat, requesting Animal Control to pick it up or, if it was a parrot, demanding that the owner take its cage indoors for the night.
On a foggy morning, when a young peacock streaked across the road in front of me, I had a Eureka! moment. Searching the internet for videos, I found one with two peacocks facing off at a zoo. In the background, as if they were noisy spectators wagering on the fight, birds shrieked the plaintive cry that had caused my insomnia.
Sometimes, the peacocks take an evening stroll down the street, pecking the ground like hens in a barnyard. While it amuses me to see drivers stop their cars to take photos, not everyone shares my enthusiasm for the birds. Once, as my daughter and I said good-bye on the front steps of my house, she rolled her eyes and grumbled, “Mom, the peacocks are meowing again.”
As a writer, I believe that truth is stranger than fiction. If my upcoming novel, Niko’s Stolen Bride, wasn’t set on a yacht in the Gulf of Mexico, I’d find a place for the neighborhood peacocks in the story. It’s possible the birds will be the catalyst for my next work, set in Central Florida. A select few people will know they’re not a figment of my imagination. I’m glad you’re in on the secret.

Lindy Corbin published her first novel in 1988 with Pageant Books. Babies and bills intervened, but she is finally weaving words together again. She lives in the lush oasis of South Florida, a sizzling backdrop for her contemporary stories.


Jennifer Blake said...

Great post, love all the colorful photos, and look forward to the peacocks story, ditto the geckos...

Landra said...

Hmm, you know peacocks have some influence in Christian and Hindu cultures. It would be very interesting to see the tie-in potentially with something meaningful. Or you could just throw them in as a distraction to a really tired hero or heroine.
Lol! Thanks for the story.