I’ve heard it said that without nature, humans would die from loneliness. (I believe it was Chief Seattle who said this!) For some of us, that is especially true where alligators are concerned! Our connection to nature enriches our lives beyond measure. Just a sighting of an alligator brings joy and excitement to our day! To be in the presence of such a powerful and majestic creature feels like a gift. When an alligator allows me to be in his or her territory, undisturbed, I always feel honored.
While we, members of Alligator Alliance, respect and value all gators, there is one in particular that we favor: Beau, a.k.a. Popeye. His favorite basking spot is located where we humans can safely observe him. He is aware of our presence and allows us to remain. It is a beautiful example of coexistence. We are careful not to do anything to disturb or distract him. In return, he gives us great photos and a sense of connection to wild nature!
A short drive from Beau/Popeye’s habitat is a city park that surrounds a swampy lake. Visitors can rent pedal boats and ride around the lake and among cypress trees draped with Spanish moss. Some of the alligators that live there will swim right alongside you in your boat, wagging their reptile tails! Aquatic turtles, fish, and shore birds are also all around. To be immersed in nature, even in the middle of town, refreshes my spirit! To see an osprey circling overhead or hear a hawk calling nearby is like a breath of fresh air, revitalizing my senses! God’s creatures not only serve a purpose in balancing ecosystems, but they also bless us with their presence and beauty. When a cowbird or gull lands nearby, or when a pelican preens its feathers as I sit in the salt breeze, it is both comforting and invigorating. Sometimes, I get a sense that a creature might be an angel delivering a hello from Heaven! When I find a track of a fox or bear while out on a walk, it makes me happy just knowing they exist and have passed close by.
I’ve been blessed to have had very close encounters with wild animals, when I’ve been involved in rescue, rehab, and release. I’ve enjoyed this many times with my sister, Kim! We were able to release owls, vultures, possums, and more. Most times, the creatures looked back at us calmly, pausing as if to say thanks, before heading back to their wild homes. To be given the trust of a wild creature you are trying to help is truly amazing.
I feel very lucky to enjoy a connection to nature, and that is one reason I am so passionate about protecting, preserving, and conserving it! And that’s why I love Alligator Alliance and the work that Lisa, John, and Kathy do for wildlife! I am beyond happy to be a part of it!