- Note: My old, obsolete computer died, which is why I haven’t posted lately. But now I have a brand-new computer, which shouldn’t be obsolete for another 18 months.
I got up on a normal Friday morning, showered, shaved, dressed myself for work and stepped out of my front door, only to see this:
That’s a wild turkey, sauntering down the sidewalk in front of my house, like a neighborhood busybody checking up on the neighbors.
There’s a lot of wildlife in Florida, and we see more of it than most people, because we live very close to a state park. There’s a large rookery of snowy egrets nearby, herds of deer wander around nibbling on the shrubbery, and occasionally a black bear will be discovered eating from a garbage can. They’re all mostly harmless. But if you live near water, you often see signs like this:
There aren’t very many swimming holes in Florida, and if you do swim in a lake or river, you don’t swim alone.
The day after the turkey incident, we drove to the middle of the state where my wife’s brother manages a barbecue restaurant. He asked us, “Would you like to meet Pickles?” We had no idea what he was talking about, so we followed him through the kitchen, where he grabbed a loaf of bread and took us out the back door.
There’s a small pond out in back of the restaurant, with crystal-clear water (unusual for Florida). He tossed a few crumbs of bread in the water, which began to boil with fish.
“Here comes Pickles,” he said. A three foot long alligator appeared across the pond and swam casually towards us, halting at the water’s edge.
“She used to come for the fish, but the fish are too hard to catch. So now she wants the bread,” he explained. He squatted down by the water and offered a wad of bread, which Pickles gently took from his hand.
Alligators typically shun humans, hiding in deep water whenever they come nearby. My wife’s brother believes that Pickles was a pet that was released into the pond when she grew too large to keep at home. Even though she seems tame, alligators have very tiny, primitive brains that only process two concepts: food and sex. And while feeding her seems cute, it’s illegal. This is because you don’t want a hungry twelve foot long dinosaur living nearby that has no fear of people.
Personally, I belive this is one of those self-correcting problems. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a picture of my brother-in-law in the paper in about four years, accompanied by an interview with his grieving widow and another photo of Pickles, trussed and immobilized in the back of a Fish and Wildlife van. They’ll haul her off to a state park and dump her into a swamp. One day I’ll step out my door on a typical Friday morning, and there she’ll be. I just hope we have enough bread.