Gator Aid

The very word “swamp” makes me itch. Visions of marauding mosquitoes, clouds of black flies, and other inhospitable creatures come to mind, so I had no real interest in visiting Okefeenokee Swamp. Still, the swamp called to me before I had completely passed the entrance to the Okefenokee Swamp Park, so I cut across the highway and headed down the five-mile road. Part of this journey is about facing my fears, and I fear mosquitoes the way some people fear bees. The bites swell enormously at times, and often the site of old bites itch when I get a new bite as if to welcome the company. (I still have scars from all the bites I got last summer.)

I sprayed myself with the most natural bug spray I could find (some eucalyptus & lemon thing manufactured by Repel that Consumer Reports had found to be as effective as Deet) and hoped for the best.

About a mile in, I got caught behind a car parked in the middle of the road. Young boys were hanging out the window, so I glanced to where they were pointing.

Oh, my. Alligators!

I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me to look for alligators in the swamp, maybe because I hadn’t seen any in Florida, but it was a great thrill to see the beast less than ten yards from my car. Very respectfully, I got out of my car to take a photo, then continued to follow the car. Several other times those same boys aided in my spotting an alligator.

This wasn’t the first time I received such gator aid — at Davis Bayou, I was taking a photo of a heron when a woman walking her dog came and pointed out the alligator all but hidden in the mud a few feet from the bird.

I’ve always known I wasn’t observant (I’d be one of those witnesses to an accident who wouldn’t be able to tell you the color of the cars or even the victims), so I was glad of the help in getting attuned to looking for the prehistoric creatures until I could find them for myself.

Almost as big a thrill as seeing the alligators was seeing the lily pads with blooming flowers.

On my way out of the park, I again stopped by the side of the road. No alligators, but I did see turtles sunning themselves on a log. (They were shy and slipped into the water before I could take a picture.) In the quiet, I heard a long low call, too gutteral to have been a bird, but I never discovered what sort of creature made the noise.

The lovely outing was made even lovelier by the lack of mosquito bites. I can’t verify the efficacy of the spray I used because to tell the truth, I didn’t see or hear a single mosquito.

Still, I am just as glad I didn’t hang around until dusk so the day-shy denizens of the swamp could find me.

***

(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

***

 

5 Responses to “Gator Aid”

  1. Terri Says:

    Great photos, especially the lily pads! Enjoy the adventure!

  2. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    I’m glad you had a chance to see the swamp, the lily pads, the longleaf pines, and–of course–the gators.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      So far, I am enjoying Georgia very much.

      (Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

  3. Kathy Says:

    It takes 2 days for the mosquito bites to make themselves known – at least it did in Florida. Mosquitoes love me.🙂

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m so sensitive to the venom, it takes only twelve hours to pop a small bump that continues growing for 48 hours. Lucky me. And mosquitoes love me, too. Apparently, they are very picky about what type blood they want. Some types are immune.

      (Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)


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