a trip to a wildlife sanctuary
|It was beautiful. Stunning. Like nothing I’ve ever witnessed. Thousands, (okay, hundreds) of huge white birds, herons I believe, sat in the bushes, which lined the west side of Blue Pond. As my eyes panned the length of the murky waters, I wondered, who named it blue? The water, brown and opaque, wasn’t even a remote shade of blue. Someone needed to review his colors. Blue must of had another significant meaning. One whose origin I’ll probably never know.
The three of us, my husband Bryan, and daughter Laney, looked on in awe as we stood on the east end of the path at the water’s edge. Inhaling nature’s magnificent beauty, the warm sun against my bare shoulders felt pleasant, and I sighed with contentment.
After a long moment I said, "We need to get a blanket and spread it out here to eat lunch.” I stretched my arm out, indicating a nice shady spot. Everyone agreed. Our sub sandwiches would taste extra special, in the midst of such breathtaking scenery.
We inched our way on the path, which ran alongside the pond, drinking in its entire splendor that was almost too lovely to digest. There were red-billed ducks and water turkeys, turtles, and strange looking insects. Suddenly, Bryan spotted an alligator. With quick quiet steps, we all huddled to his side, to get a better view. "See?” he whispered, “There he is, just to the left of that log." His arm pointing out towards the water. Sure enough, there was an alligator. I squinted my eyes to improve my vision. A smidge of his snout raised above the water line. A little further to his right, you could see a piece of his back. That creature must have been eight feet long. Hit with a sudden moment of panic, I remembered the picnic idea and began to rethink its location. Since none of the ducks swimming around seemed to even notice his presence, why should I? Still not convinced, I started to voice my relocation plan but neither my 14 year old nor my husband expressed the slightest bit of concern. Not wanting to appear psychotic and phobic in the company of an 8th grader, I remained silent. Besides, why should I let one eight-foot alligator rain on my parade?
We strolled along the path in silence, lost in our own reverie.
Then, Laney saw another gator snuggled up next to the bank. Its enormous nose covered in what I’d normally call pond scum. However, this being a wildlife sanctuary, I thought the term scum sounded much like a curse word especially to the ears of the orange-billed ducks splashing and swimming around. At any rate, the scum, oh excuse me, the algae, was a bright hue of green. According to Crayola, it was ‘spring green’ which is a shade lighter than green yellow. Not to be confused with yellow green. This, oddly enough is darker than green yellow. I figured the guy who named the pond blue must also work for Crayola: Pond naming his side job.
Further down a ways, my husband spotted four baby alligators. He thought it would be cool to get their attention. Thank goodness, my daughter mentioned the mother might be near, thereby providing an abrupt halt to his attempts. Good job Laney!
We continued to amble on past the pond and down through the woods before deciding to head back to our Chevy Avalanche, where lunch was packed snug and neat in an iced down cooler. My stomach growled at the thought of our Publix sub sandwiches.
On the return walk, we happened to observe a few more gators than we did before. "I think they were already there and we just didn’t notice them," I offered. With each new spotting, my body filled with fright. However, the rest of my family became bolder. Bryan even started making the gator calling sound. A noise he had learned from some public television show long before the Discovery Channel was offered on cable TV. What on earth was he doing? Trying to scare me? With half a dozen more gator sightings, lunch here on the grounds was out of the question. I’d veto anybody with the nerve to argue.
Bryan’s gator call grew louder, enticing Laney to join in. Oh great! Jeff Corwin’s understudy and his daughter. Suddenly, the head of the alligator moved toward their direction. Stuck with a fresh bolt of fear, I ran a few yards in the direction of the truck. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered hearing how gators can run as fast as humans. I needed a huge lead, if the reptile decided it was interested in a race. A couple of minutes into the sprint I realized I was the only one running. I turned back in horror to see my other two companions not only had moved closer, but they were peering over the bank, practically reaching out to touch the alligator! I kept my distance. “If you guys want to BE lunch instead of EAT lunch, you can have at it,” I shrieked. I however, wanted to keep my ten fingers and ten toes, even if they were turning yellow right under my very own terror.
With casual steps, I walked toward the truck. The Corwin Team could take their time if they wished. I took one last look. What a glorious stroke of God’s picturesque landscape; which I would enjoy…from the bed of my Avalanche.