Monday, July 21, 2008

Gator Hurdling - Let Sleeping Gators Lie

In grade school many of us had to do the standing/running long jump for P.E. (Physical Education) but we were never offered a practical application for it. I assumed it would help if I ever need to jump from rooftop to rooftop like on the A-team. But a young boy had to put that skill to the test on tour yesterday when he had to leap over a sleeping alligator.

He didn't have to so much as he needed to.

My tour brings people to the Fakahatchee Strand State Park where we walk a gravel path to reach an elevated boardwalk. As I walked my group towards the boardwalk we noticed a good sized 8 foot alligator stretched across the path, sunbathing.
As we inched closer you could see her breathing in and out and she had her legs and feet positioned to catch the most rays. This is known in yoga as the "leisurly lizard". With my nervous band of travelers behind me, I took the lead, inviting them to come closer - but not too close. If the alligator was healthy and needed to escape I wanted to make sure she had a clear path. Regardless I always make sure I am the fastest in the group. The gator rotated herself and aimed her body towards the swamp - plopping back down and resting once again.
While we watched and my group bravely shuffled ever closer - a young boy stepped off the boardwalk in front of us. He was around 10 years of age and had gone well ahead of his parents. A teenager in my group yelled for him to stop, but the boy obliviously whistled and kicked rocks, looking at the ground. "Alligator" the boy in my group shouted. The younger boy looked up, shot us a startled....hrrrm...freaked out look, and JUMPED over the tail of the alligator! He cleared a 5-foot swath while the alligator napped on.
The alligator looked a little skinny. This was not normal behavior. Maybe she was sick. Most alligators would have bolted for the water but this one had little intention of moving. It could have easily bitten anyone had it wished to or chomped those that had ignored their long jump lessons in school.

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