Sunday, June 17, 2012

Darwin should see this

I didn’t hear any screams, so I guess the idiot and the gator survived.Before I tell you that story, let me explain about my painting Circe’s Dating Pool. In mythology, Circe turned amorous sailors into swine. In Florida, aging boys litter dating sites with pictures of themselves holding big hogfish as romantic bait. To me, the move from Circe's swine to hogfish and dating seems a reasonable metamorphosis.
Now, moving from ocean to river, here's the story of that first line--
A curious gator, maybe four feet long, leaves the shore and swims quickly towards our canoe. Soon as he's close enough to figure out what we are, he swims parallel to the boat. The birds have gone silent and instead of their songs, we hear some recidivist rehab diva's voice scratching nature till it bleeds.
The young gator submerges, now invisible, as we round the bend where the air is suddenly scented with cigarette smoke. There’s one man standing--well, sort of swaying--in thigh deep water, his white skin glowing in the tannin-dense river. One hand is conducting with a cigarette, and he's using the beer in the other hand as ballast.
“There’s a gator heading in your direction,” I call to him, and the idiot, showing off for his beer can buddies in their boat yells, “Great! I’ll go meet it!” and dives under water.
I ply the paddle deep and fast, saying to my companion, “This could be a Darwin Award Moment and I don’t want to see it. Just keep paddling.”
Far be it from me to get in the way of that guy's personal freedom.

You’d think that telling “gator and the idiot” stories would be cautionary tales, but a park ranger at Myakka told me that there are people who emulate whatever bad behavior they hear. Warn not too feed gators, and picnickers are right on the river bank tossing in hot dogs. Might as well be tossing their kids and canines.
The sad thing is that any gator seen being fed is “removed” for future human safety, because an alligator not only comes to associate humans with food, but doesn’t distinguish between the food and the hand that holds it. Potentially, you’re just one big snack, bubba.

Want more wild life? Read Gator Girl (terror masquerades as aplomb) and Raptor Rapture
(owl prowl and oh my, what big teeth you have).
Circe's Dating Pool , from my Enigmatic Paradise series, is available in print.
Idiosyncracies: Female hogfish can change sex and have a harem. (See, there is a Cosmic Jester.) Wonderfully snarky poem from Circe’s perspective in The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy.
The Darwin Awards are given "to people who kill (or sterilize) themselves in really stupid ways, and in doing so, significantly improve the gene pool by eliminating themselves from the human race."


Anonymous said...

I first became aware of Beth Surdut's
work as a painter and writer about '97-'98. I've found her use of texture as varied as color in pieces
ranging from the underwater scenes of
fish and mermaids to outer space's
"Happy Birthday Hubble," which features the Whirlpool Galaxy. But Beth's work also shows the use of light and humor as well as light and dark, making it far from nebulous.
"Ganesh On The Gulf Course" is a piece that approaches this barrier,
but it is her work with orchids that draws me in the most. Nature
scenes such as "Myakka" and "Amazon
Mysteries" will entice you as well;
not just to view, but to discover
where different elements of the pieces reveal themselves.

Kim Northrop said...

So true, so true.