I had an alarming encounter the other day when I went to pick up the mail.
In the subdivision where I live, the postal service typically does not deliver mail to specific houses. There is a mailbox village near our clubhouse when you first enter the community. Some people walk to the mailboxes to get their mail. We live just about as far from the mailboxes as you can get and still live in our development. It is 1.1 miles from our front door to our mailbox. Given that the temperature level has been in the ninth circle of hell recently, with the humidity level set on “boiled lobster,” I have not been trotting my behind to the mailbox under the power of my own two feet. Picking up the mail requires a vehicle.
Recently, I decided to get the mail as I returned to the community after running a couple of errands. I was already hot, sticky, and overwhelmed. It seemed wise to perform the strenuous work of turning the key in the lock before I crept back into the house where the blessed air conditioner would cool down my body temperature. As I traveled the little road to the mailboxes, I noticed a car stopped in the oncoming lane. I wondered what the problem was, but, when I got closer, I identified the impediment. It was a reptilian speed bump- better known as an alligator. The people in the other lane were waiting for the thing to move out of their way. I guess they didn’t want to insist.
The alligator showed no sign of moving anywhere any time soon. I stopped my car to take pictures, forgetting that the car in the alligator occupied lane was probably waiting for me to move on so they could swerve into my lane to proceed down the road. Delaying them so that I could take pictures was inconsiderate of me, but I was so surprised by the alligator, it did not hit me until later that I was being rude. My apologies to the people in the car waiting for the crazy woman to stop photographing the alligator and get the heck out of the way.
Seeing alligators in the community is not exactly a common occurrence, but it is not unheard of, either. It is no longer surprising to see a picture on our community Facebook page that demonstrates that we do actually live in the wild. I have to confess that, for years after moving into my community, I doubted the veracity of those pictures. I guess I was in denial ( oh wait, crocodiles live in The Nile, not alligators!) and didn’t want to believe that I lived in the alligators’ backyard. However, during the COVID19 shutdown, I could no longer doubt the evidence of my own eyes. Max was looking out the Florida room windows one day and called to me, asking if that was an alligator hanging out behind our next-door neighbor’s house. I initially said that I thought it was a tree root. Until the tree root moved. That gator was about 9 feet long. While I say there was an alligator in my backyard, I am sure the alligator would say that there were humans in his backyard. Since that day, I am inclined to believe just about any alligator-related story that reports from Florida.
Going back to the alligator on the road the other day… he wasn’t a huge guy. I’d say about 4 to 5 feet. There are many lakes and retention ponds where I live. The largest one is near the entrance to the community. Alligator sightings are pretty common around there. You see, adult male alligators are very territorial. They will typically run off juvenile males as soon as said juveniles are big enough to look like threats but before they are big enough to actually be threats. This means that we spot the occasional evicted alligator teenager wandering around in a confused state looking for a body of water to call his own. Someone once said that, in Florida, if you have a glass of water, there will be an alligator trying to get into it. Since our community is a veritable soda fountain of swimming holes, it isn’t too hard for the displaced gator to find alternative lodgings. Sometimes, though, it takes a little bit of help. Awhile back, someone posted a picture of a small group of my neighbors trying to “help” a young alligator by herding him across the little road to our clubhouse to another pond. It wasn’t a very big alligator. Maybe only a foot or two. He must have done something really annoying to get run off so early. He did not look like that much of a threat to me… and apparently, he did not look like that much of a threat to my well-intentioned neighbors. I have to say, though, that I don’t think I would have been brave enough to interact with him. I would have left him to his own devices and trusted Mother Nature to help him find his way to a new home. Sometimes bravery is just a nice word for recklessness.
Anyway, after I took my pictures and realized I was holding up traffic, I drove past the alligator and made my way to the mailboxes. We are pretty popular with the junk mail crowd. We have mail virtually every day that mail is delivered, even if that mail is just ads. On the Day of the Alligator, I opened the mailbox and found… nothing. Not even a warning that I needed to renew my car warranty. Not even an invitation to attend a dinner where I could learn all about the benefits of prepaid funerals. Not even a shout out to consider buying a state-of-the-art hearing aid at a bargain price. Absolutely nothing. I couldn’t help but wonder if the alligator blocking the road to the mailbox had anything to do with it.
Doesn’t the postal service have some kind of oath? Neither snow, nor rain, nor alligator will keep us from our appointed route? Someone was clearly falling down on the job!
What is the most dramatic animal you have seen wandering in your neighborhood? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have an eventful day!