Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pig Chicken

There are few things that I fear. Dropping my keys down a storm drain is one. Clowns including mimes. Stumbling into a beehive is another. For anti-phalactic reasons. But my greatest fear is unpredictable animal behavior and there are few as unpredictable as pigs.

My latest adventure brought me to Alligator Creek at the Port Charlotte Environmental Center. It's unstaffed presently because no one in their right mind would slog through the flooded trails and mosquito inhabited salt marshes of this park in September. But flowers bloom, mushrooms grow and you never know what you'll see unless you get out and experience it and so I did.
American Beauty berries color the palmetto scrub lands purple and while they may be tasty treats to the raccoons, the cellulose seed coverings are not easily digested and make for nice crap adornments. It's the height of the rainy season. Everything is wet. Everything is rotting and decomposing.
Vestiges of a front lawn flower garden?

From beginning to end, the trail is under 3-12 inches of water. Here I had to ford across ankle deep, tanic-acid stained water. No worries except for the occasional raft of red ants that have become swamped and now float to dry refuge.

Mosquitoes I can deal with. But this scene concerns me. Not only do pigs, (which were introduced by the Spaniards 500 years ago) create an environmental mess as they dig for grubs, they have not standard practice for fleeing which I find unacceptable. When approached, they run in any direction and on occasion straight at me. No pigs sighted yet, but I know they are here.
A snort and a "wuuuuueeeeeee" followed by crashing through the palmettos makes me stop in my tracks. There's a big pig, nearly 2.5-3 feet tall, palm-brown fur providing excellent camo. If it has tusks I'll be even more nervous.The next one is obviously a female and I spook her from her resting spot. It's hot and they lie in the mud and this one darts up and runs away - stops and then charges through the palms. I grab a rotten oak branch, look for the nearest tree to climb and wait. She stops again when I scream an obscenity and she heads in the opposite direction.
There's a year round season on pigs here and as I get to the furthest point on the loop trail I hear a gun shot. Could I have entered a park where hunting is allowed and I ignored the signs? Now I'm really nervous and feeling stupid, so I slosh loudly through the flooded trail and shout more obscenities at the pigs. They leave me alone, but it reminds me of the differences between hiking in Vermont and here in Florida. Snakes, Pigs, Bugs, Gators - there's no shortage of things to keep aware of. But that's what makes it an adventure! It turns out that hunting is off limits in the park, thus the concentration of pigs along my route. They're not stupid! Neither am I, but I am a chicken when it comes to pigs.


  1. Ironic that you should post your fear of mimes on the day that the most famous mime - Marcel Marceau - dies....coincidence?

  2. I probaby shouldn't say anything. I'm still on the hook for Roy Orbison 20 years ago....

  3. MEEZ (and your pictures, esp the purple poop!) are GREAT!


  4. was recently voted the #3 most annoying site on the web!

    I can't believe it's taken my this long to talk about poop.

  5. More poop, please! I very much enjoyed the juxtaposition of fresh berries and fresh scat with berry husks. I encourage any further blogs dealing with scatological analyses--truly interesting.

  6. I didn't even mention the giant Pig turd floating in the trail....

    Coming soon - more poop!

  7. "shouting obscenities?" maybe.... screaming like a girl and running from the pigs...most likely

  8. if a mime ran through the palmettos, I'd scream like a little girl and wet my pants. But I did shout terrible vulgarities at the swine.

  9. When we used to go riding in the evening (in an area that is now luxury homes in a gated golf course community off clark road but was, in the 80s, the middle o' nowhere) the worse thing wasn't the rattle snakes, it was knowing all those pigs were snuffling around out there, waiting to charge at you. Especially since my horse than was an especially neurotic rescue from the animal shelter who was already deathly afraid of, in no particular order: his shadow, rocks, and palmettos. Good times.

  10. Hard to believe something that "snuffles" causes such anxiety.