Better stick to snipe…
Last week, as the boys and I were exploring Central Winds Park, we hit on the clever idea of walking through the bushes to see Lake Jessup.
Lake Jessup, for those of you that may not know, is alligator central. It’s fun (and a little scary) to go down to the edge and see them swimming around.
In the past, we’ve always used the clearly marked trail to do this craziness, the trail that goes past the big “Beware of Alligators” sign. On this day, however, my oldest had discovered another trail, one that was more overgrown, and he wanted to explore.
Before agreeing to this exploration, I briefed the kids on what to do if we saw an alligator. It was a very brief briefing, consisting of two words: “run fast.”
Before I continue, I should point out that a lot of people go down to this lake, for bird watching, alligator spotting, and fishing. The alligators know this and stay away. Well, for the most part. Also it was cold, and, as everyone knows, alligators move more slowly in the cold. Besides, as long as you keep your distance, alligators tend to ignore you. Unless you hear them bark, you’re relatively safe.
Getting back to our story…
We crept down the game trail to the lake. I was in front for most of the way, but I would sometimes hold a branch out of the way for the kids to go in front.
It was during just such a maneuver, when my youngest was in front of me and my oldest behind, that we heard the bark of an alligator.
My youngest froze.
My oldest dove under a bush.
I actually started to run, then remembered the kids and turned back. As I scooped up my youngest, I saw a vulture about four feet away, flapping out of the bushes.
The sound we’d heard was his wing hitting a branch into another branch.
My youngest laughed. “That’s why I didn’t run,” he said. “I knew it was a bird.”
I herded the kids away from the lake. We’d done enough alligator hunting for one day.
“What about you?” I asked my oldest. “Diving under a bush is a really bad way to escape an alligator.”
He blushed. “No, I didn’t. I just tripped.”
“Besides,” he said, “you started to run away. You’re not supposed to do that!”
From now on, we’ll just stick to snipe hunting. It’s less embarrassing.