I’m guessing you read the title to this post more than once. And now you’re looking to me for an explanation. And the explanation goes a little something like this.
A few days ago, Brian and I decided that it was far too pretty to stay inside. And so we ventured to one of our favorite spots: Cypress Gardens. A little wildlife reserve just a few miles from our home, Cypress is one of our “must visit” locales when spring hits full force. Among other things, the hiking, self-guided boat tours of the swamp, and beautiful foliage draws us there again and again.
On this particular day, we took our flat-bottomed boat out onto the black surface of the water with only one goal in mind: spot some alligators. Most of our friends who have visited Cypress Gardens in the past have reported sightings of the giant reptiles, but Brian and I had never seen one.
We paddled slowly through the water, silent and watching. And when we spotted our first gator sliding slowly through the water, my husband turned into the Steve Irwin. (Without the thick accent. Or the all-khaki zoo outfit.)
Out of the blue, he started spouting off everything he ever learned about our scaly friends. I was busy snapping as many pictures as my memory card would hold, and so I just nodded a lot. Most everything I knew already, but I did learn a thing or two. (My husband is smart, ya’ll.)
Two gator sightings and ten minutes later, Brian noticed that the boat way in front of us had taken a wonky detour. Determined to see what they were staring at, he pointed our vessel in their general direction. And what we found was certainly not a disappointment. There, sunning on a log literally 3 feet from our boat, was a gator. She was about 7 feet long, and she didn’t even blink as we glided silently up next to her.
Again, I was furiously taking pictures. My husband, sitting behind me, kept whispering the word “Wow,” over and over again. And an image of him as Steve Irwin popped into my head.
We must have sat and stared at that alligator for at least 15 minutes. It wasn’t until we heard another family (this time with kids…very loud, very vocal, very not-conducive-to-watching-alligators-in-the-wild kids) paddling up behind us. Knowing they’d want a chance to see the alligator, too, we started heading for shore.
To say the experience was electrifying is a bit of an understatement. Brian kept looking over his shoulder to make sure she was still on her log and not following after us for a quick afternoon snack. We each commented later that it felt like we were being watched. The little hairs on my arms raise up just thinking about it.
Feet firmly back on terra firma, we walked around the rest of the park, enjoying the wildlife and spring flowers. As we approached one of several little bridges in the park, Brian took my hand and said “I wonder what they do if a gator gets into one of these little retaining ponds over night.”
“I’d say they probably move him, ASAP,” I replied. In that moment, I noticed a pretty bench nearby that I wanted to photograph. I released Brian’s hand and grabbed the camera that had been hanging around my neck. And as I raised it to take the photo, I was met with Brian’s sharp intake of breath, followed with his arm thrown up in a defensive manner over my body.
“What? What is it??” I looked around frantically, thinking of snakes, wasps, or spiders.
And that’s when I saw it. The alligator sitting near the path, mouth agape, still as a statue.
Because it was a statue.
We both laughed for approximately 10 minutes. And then Brian turned to me and said, “You’re totally going to blog about this aren’t you?”
Being the good sport he is, he suggested the next 3 posed photos for your enjoyment. (Isn’t he so generous, readers?) I embellished them a bit with photoshop, but you’ll get the gist.
It’s really something special when, after almost 8 years of marriage, you learn something new about your spouse. And on this day, beneath the canopy of live oak trees, I learned 3 new things about Brian. Number one: his knowledge of alligators is way more extensive than I would have realized. Number two: He may have been Steve Irwin in a different life. And Number Three: He would go to the ends of the earth to protect me from a concrete alligator.
Thanks honey. You’re all aces.