Scaly Motherhood, Witnessed

I had the general impression that alligators and crocs were indifferent parents. Females laid the eggs, hatched them, and the little pre-dinos were on their own. Not so —

About three decades ago, we were walking through the Everglades in FLA and came across a couple German-speaking tourists who were tormenting a foot-and-a-half-long baby alligator by pulling its tail. I was about to run up to them and tell them to cut it the fuck out when the baby let out this piercing shriek — very high-pitched and birdlike.

Instantly, with a horrendous roar, the mother burst out of nearby reeds and began racing on fully erect legs toward the tourists — this was no slow crawling, she was moving fast as an attack dog. If she had been a yard closer, one of the tourists would not have a hand today. They sprinted away in terror and we got away in the opposite direction as fast as possible. Fortunately the mother began nuzzling the baby and was happy for the hairless apes to get gone quick.

Just a reminder — as every park ranger will tell you, these animals are not to be approached.

PS: Have to add that on the end of the same walk, a full-size alligator was snoozing on the tourist path and people wold bend down and pet it as they went by. Didn’t holler “Don’t Do That!!” But should have.


Turkeys Do Not Deserve To Be Pardoned

They’re kind of a menace, honestly.

They’re around here all the time. Have sat and shat on our roof. I watch for them nonstop, because especially groups with a couple Toms can become standout pests. You want to chase them away from any area you care about. Because if they think they can wander around with impunity, they will be back every other day.

I’ve had to smack a Tom with a broom as he raced toward me — his noise was not “gobble gobble” but a screeeeech. Now I don’t approach even a  couple of hens without a broom and waving it at them aggressively seems to work. You think they must have a communications network: “Stay away from grumpy old Miles — he’s not worth the trouble.”

Confirmation that I’m on to something.

Aztec and Eclipse

I cannot resist the notion that the first across-the-USA total eclipse was a sign of evil times. But the happier chips of me left take comfort in one of the huge benefits of science, in this case astronomy, in making a reasonably predictable universe. Otherwise, the sun going out could be the beginning of freakin’ anything, including that it would not come back.

The Aztecs had a particularly creepy mythology associated with eclipses: the sun was under attack from the stars you could see around it when it turned black. These are the female deities/demons Tzitzimime, quite the monsters.

Some images:







The Queen.

A Grisly Grizzly Anniversary

The positive message to take away from this is that people can wise up.

When I was a kid, a drive through Yellowstone Park wasn’t complete unless you managed to feed a bear from the car. That’s what you thought if all you knew about bears was Yogi. My family knew that bears were unpredictable and dangerous, and so the windows stayed rolled up while we waited out the endless traffic back-ups caused by roadside bears. How could people be so stupid? Surly bears would sometimes smack the side of a car if they felt they weren’t getting fed enough, fast enough.

There were rumors that bear incidents were hushed up because they were bad for Park business, but nobody seemed to know for sure. I did know for sure that “Night of the Grizzlies” was predicted over and over for years before it happened.

Post-4th Enough To Make You Take the Fifth

When I was a kid, the fourth of July was my favorite holiday next to Xmas and my birthday because little old Livingston went all out for it. The day before there was a parade that was the only sure parade of the year. Ran through all of downtown, involved almost all the businesses and institutions and citizens as marchers or watchers. The day of featured an outstanding rodeo with fireworks immediately following. Especially when I retained that childhood sense of time where a day could feel as long as years do to me now, I flat loved it. The 4th of July incarnated summer. (Of course, didn’t hurt that it was the only holiday out there when you could be assured of a nice warm day.)

I still love fireworks. (I disappear into them and time stands still while they go off. It’s just an urge I’ve always had and I’m glad it did not go away. But the day after the Fourth is the one nice warm day I’m sure to have at least a small bought of depression. There’s the weird business where I feel winter earlier and earlier. But beyond that, today is one of those days I envy anyone who lived before the shadow of nuclear weapons existed. So the Cold War never turned Hot. So what? Means nothing.

Oddly what most brightened my day was Laura Miller writing about death. The message that includes the bad news is the strongest. I have to take a walk outside now.