Tom Germond Sig

“If you leave him alone, he will leave you alone.”

That was one of my dad's pithy sayings when it comes to wildlife.

Guess it doesn't apply to winged creatures.

While visiting some friends at St. Pete Beach a few weekends ago, I had a conversation with a woman who said she was attacked by a great horned owl as she was walking in a wooded area near her home in south Orlando.

She was minding her own business, but the bird didn't think so and swooped down on her. The victim believes the owl, which was not available for comment, felt she was a threat to the owl's nesting fledglings.

If memory serves me right, the victim said she wasn't hurt bad but ended up on the ground with friends coming to the rescue.

Can't say that I've ever been attacked by a bird, but, as I was leaving the beach that afternoon, the image of a great horned owl swooping down on me kept running through my mind.

"Oh, great, I thought. Now I'm going to have a recurring nightmare for the rest of my life."

So far, my dreams have been owl-free, luckily. And I've had some doozies over my lifetime:

• I've dreamed that I've been cornered by a diamondback rattlesnake. Guess a Scoutmaster's flashlight rescued me from that nightmare. Or maybe it was a kick in the rear from a tent mate.

• A picky eater as a kid, I've dreamed about regurgitating food that I don't like, such as au rotten potatoes, or whatever the dish is called. Fortunately, I was able to feed a lot of food I didn't like to the family cat, Dynamite, underneath the dinner table. No telling what Dynamite dreamed about after eating that stuff.

• My most recurring nightmare is that I forgot to go to a class and was worried that I wouldn't be able to graduate from college when I expected to. Guess I'm not the only victim of such a nightmare.

I asked a good friend and psychologist, Val Campbell, about why I would repeatedly have such a bad dream.

Nightmares usually come from stress and anxiety, she said.

"If a student had a nightmare about missing class and failing, the student is likely worried about grades. It is interesting to me that students that have these dreams are usually highly motivated and may feel pressure to succeed. Dreams like this can also denote anxiety in general," Val said.

As in most dreams, she added, the brain exaggerates the fear into failure. She recalled that a long time ago she had a job as a waitress.

"I used to have nightmares that I had to get hot food to a table in Boston, but I was in France. The job was overwhelming at times and it showed up in my dreams. Either that or I'd just rather be in France," Val said.

Ever had a dream about your teeth falling out? They are common, from what I've read. Never had such dreams. But I confess to having nightmares about being yelled at by an orthodontist who had to pry licorice off my braces.

So far, the impact of the coronavirus hasn't invaded my dreams. But any day now, I expect to dream about the breweries being closed forever. My worst nightmare.

Better stop while I'm ahead. If I keep thinking about being attacked by owls, sure enough one will infiltrate my dreams. Perhaps a solution is to always think positive: "If you leave him alone, he'll leave you alone."

After all, there are worse nightmares than being attacked by a great horned owl.

Swooping pterodactyls come to mind. Oh-oh.

Tom Germond is a freelance correspondent for Tampa Bay Newspapers. He can be reached at tgermond@tampabay.rr.com.