Monday, February 4, 2008

Alligator Alley

Different regions of the country have different things they're known for. California has earthquakes, North Alabama, where I'm from, has some pretty bad tornados, and Florida has hurricanes. Tornados don't scare me much because usually you have a little bit of warning. Now earthquakes, those would terrify me. We had one in Alabama once. It woke us up out of a sound sleep. My husband dashed downstairs to the kids' rooms to check on them, and then checked the furnace because he thought it might be about to blow. It was a pretty strong earthquake, and it was all over the news the following morning. But the sudden onslaught and no warning really made me scared. By the same token, hurricanes are scary, but you get a lot of warning on those.
In addition to weather situations, different regions have creature situations too. In Alabama we had poisonous snakes and spiders. We found quite a few on our property the last few months before we moved. That was freaky. The bugs in Alabama were bigger than they were in the Midwest, too. But then in Africa, they had HUGE bugs and lizards (inside and outside the house). For snakes they had black and green mombas and cobras. Very deadly--very scary.
You'd think that after that nothing would scare me much, but there's a whole new critter to fear in Florida. I'm talking about alligators. You see a lot of them in lakes and such. Our subdivision is across from a large lake, and the kids always look for gators as we drive by in the mornings. We've also been out on a boat on the lake and seen alligators swimming nearby. Gives new meaning to the command, "Keep your hands and legs inside the boat at all times!"
So they're scary, but they're contained. At least, I thought so at first. I was warned to be careful about letting our children near any retention ponds. About two tenths of a mile inside the entrance to our subdivision is a small pond with a fountain in the middle. Right near it is the kiosk with all the mailboxes. My boys have insisted that they saw an alligator in that pond. I never believed them unti just the other day. I was waiting for my daughter to get the mail, and I noticed something (looked like a tail) rising up out of the pond. It lingered for a while and then slowly lowered again. It did that twice. There is a community bulletin board near the mailboxes, and on it was an article about what to do when living near alligators. It was two pages, but it boiled down to two points: don't feed them and stay away from them. Can I just say, "Duh!"
Anyway, One of my classes recently had to do a summary of a news article for English class. One of the boys brought in an article about a 13 foot alligator that was captured outside of Lake Monroe. That's the lake near where we live. A little further in the article it mentioned that it was caught on 17-92 (the road that goes by our subdivision) near I-4. (Less than a mile from our house.) I mentioned this to my husband and he told me he happened to be driving out of the subdivision when he saw several police cars with lights flashing blocking something in the street. They had trapped this huge alligator on the road just outside our subdivision!
My first instinct is to freak out, barricade myself and my kids in the house and never come out again. Since that's not practical, I've settled for a few cautionary changes. We stay further away from retention ponds, we practice running really fast, and I never check our mail after dark anymore. Welcome to Florida!

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