Thursday, March 13, 2008

Raptor Rapture

Big gator. Bigger than my boat, and definitely faster. Like a nightmare troll stretching across the narrow entrance of the estuary, he watches as I edge past in a rented tub-toy masquerading as a kayak. God he has a lot of teeth.

Almost three years I've been paddling, skimming, slogging, punting my way along the Myakka- the wild and scenic place that never disappoints and keeps me on the right side of sanity.

Almost sunset--two wood storks pose in tandem like a lyre of grace amidst four deer grazing in a lush green patch. An ungainly gallinule lofts from one shore to the other, reflected in the dark mirror of water before landing heavily in a bank of grass so dry it crackles.

I paddle up to where I think the bird might be, and find myself looking at three bulging pairs of eyes in gator babies so cute you might almost forget that Big Momma Gator might be close by...but truth is, I have an arrangement with these creatures of wing and hoof, carapace and prehistoric hide--they own the joint and as long as I behave myself, I get to experience the wonder of natural Florida.

I spent three nights wandering around Myakka park looking for owls. Didn't see a one in the wild, or on the birdwalk, or up in the moonlit canopy, or down by the gully, though the Owl Prowl instructor brought four raptors for a teaching purposes. "Might sound like a dove," the ranger said.

Dusk in my backyard in the city-- For the second night in a row I hear"Hoooo-hooo. Hooo-hooo-hooo." I stand under the live oaks draped with thick Spanish moss, what we call Pele's Hair in Hawaii, and I carefully mimic the call. There it is, a great winged creature flying across the twilight, a barred owl. Must've heard me asking for him.
For more art and the adventures of Gator Girl, see The Subtlety of Gators posted Oct 2007.

No comments: