If someone had told me I’d move to Tucson and be surrounded by wild animals, I’d have figured they were nuts.

Little did I know.

Recently I was on the phone when Charlie and Toots began barking ferociously, so I charged to the kitchen to investigate. Guess who was standing on the wall in the backyard as arrogant as could be? Mr. Hawk, who glared at Charlie and Toots as if to say, “Go away.” I scowled at him through the sliding glass door, shouting, “What are you doing here?”

Suddenly, a small bird flew away, indicating Mr. Hawk was on the prowl. With an almost imperceptible shrug of his massive shoulders, seemingly snorting with disdain, off he flew.

The next afternoon the dogs barked again. This time it was Miss Gila Monster, lounging on the wall as if she were at a pool in Miami Beach.

Telling the dogs, “Be quiet and stay put,” I ran outdoors armed with a broom. “Get away from here,” I screeched at the stunning, sunning creature. Instead of departing, she stuck out her long black tongue ,daring me to come closer.

Wanting to scare her off, I threw a rock at the wall. My heart skipped a beat as I wondered if she would leap off the wall and land on my chest — sort of like a scene from a “Matrix” film.

Afraid she planned to move into our backyard, I called the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. A man there advised me I was lucky to have seen her three times in two weeks. Gila monsters only come out from underground about 14 days a year. We were safe!

On to the next challenge. For three months I’ve been slaving away to create a Garden of Eden on my patio. Thanks to the Blossom Booster plant food my friends Linda and Bob Clayton recommended, I have an abundance of gorgeous, colorful flowers. So guess what? The birds in the neighborhood have swooped down to eat the flowers. These are the same birds for which I put out fresh water every day, including ice water on summer afternoons. Where is the gratitude?

In the four years I’ve lived here, I’ve seen mountain lions, bobcats, javelinas, coyotes, snakes and a wide variety of birds and lizards. A quail hatched 18 chicks on my enclosed patio, where they were trapped, so I fed them for three weeks until they flew away. That was a heartwarming experience.

Rattlesnakes stop to rest at my front door. The best thing about finding a rattler is that the Fire Department shows up. I asked one if they have to be good-looking to be a fireman. Without skipping a beat he said, “Yes.”

Too bad they won’t come shoo away the critters munching on my flowers!

Alexis Powers is the author of several books and lives on the northwest side. Email her at northwest@azstarnet.com or view her website at www.alexis-powers.com