Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Even the safe path has dangers on each side

This post could also, alternatively, be titled: Stupid Things That Amber Has Done.

I live, as I believe I have mentioned, in the middle of nowhere, or BFN, as we sometimes call it.

People out here have at least three acres, many times much more. We're not that far from both a state park and a wolf sanctuary. Aside, hearing the wolves howl at night? Lovely. We had a...I think he was ten foot or so gator show up in our swale one morning. I watched a, I'm guessing, I didn't measure him, six or seven foot gator mosey down the side of the road last week, moving from one water source to the next. Anyway. In our back yard, we have a "pond". I say "pond" because, while it is meant to be filled with water, we don't fill it. Rather, we let it be a natural pond, ground water and rain. Only, since this is year three of drought conditions, not so much with the water. I refer to it as the sandtrap, or litter box, since the barn cats in the neighborhood find it very convenient.

Last night, around nine, I was walking our Pomeranian. She needs more exercise, because she has bad knees, so I have been walking her around the back of the property, which means walking around the pond, and then back to the house. The property line between us and our neighbors is heavily brush and wood. I know that there's a hole in the fencing, because their yorkie gets in our yard sometimes, but the brush is so thick we can't find it to fix it. To get around the pond, you have to walk on a relatively narrow strip where you've got the woods on one side and the pond on the other. The pond is about 14 feet deep, and has steep sides.

So, walking along, little Pomeranian suddenly goes nuts, trying to head for the woods. I'm not letting her, because I don't like frightening the rabbits, and I'm certainly not going to let her or any of the dogs catch one. But the 'rabbit' never startles out, and so I pick her up, and sort of walk a little forward, peering into the dark, because full moon or no, there's shadows in the woods, and I didn't bring my flashlight.

And.....then I think I see a snout. And realize that, should that actually be a gator, I am between him and water.

Doesn't he just look comfy?

So. I very calmly turn around, and walk quickly back to the house, staying as far from the woodline as I can, but also not too close to the edge of the pond. And I keep looking back, just in case. The whole time, thinking, 'stupid!' at myself. For those who do not know, gators can *book* on land. They may look slow, but they're not. I think they hit twenty some miles per hour at a dead run? And they average about 400 pounds, fully grown. They're not agressive, like crocodiles, but they will kill you. So, it's best to respect them and not be in their territory. During dry spells, they'll roam if their water source dries up, so you seem them more than usual.

In retrospect, I don't really think there was a gator there, but the scare reminded me that I've gotten complacent about some stuff. I know better than to go out there without a light, and to be extra careful in floods or droughts.

Once I'd finished berating myself for being a moron, it occurred to me, because my brain is in a philosophical place lately, that it's something like life.

There's a path, safe, clear, and easy to follow. But, on either side of that path, is danger. And we sometimes forget that that danger is there, and fail to be cautious, because we've been down this road before, and we think we know what we're doing. Just because the way looks clear doesn't mean that you can let your guard down.
I know, not very deep. But I have shallow thoughts, what can I say?


  1. I was reminded of my care-free high school jogging days where I easily could have become Chandra Levy! Thank you for the reminder that we are fragile and should hold dear to this short time we have.

    I LOVE that you are also scared of giant gators Amber. I once has a bad experience at a Kissimee Florida Gatorland where a gator scared me half to death. I was really young and like a baby.

    You know I like that your scared of these gators but not sharks. So funny!

    Yikes Amber it sounds like you live really far out. Do you get to eat out and go to the mall or are we talking REALLY far out?

    Love you!

  2. I think the 'fear' is from growing up in Florida. I've always lived near water, so there's always been the presence of gators. I'm not terrified of them or anything, more like a healthy respect, and I love seeing them in nature, taking pictures of them whenever I get a chance. Honestly I love predatory animals of all kinds. :)

    But it's one of those things drilled into you as a kid. You know what to watch for, and what not to do. Just, sometimes you forget. :)

    Hmm, I get out occasionally. It's not *that* far to civilization, maybe a twenty minute drive.


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