A Perfect Stick or a Perfect Plan

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A Perfect Stick or a Perfect Plan

Gust Post by Nancy Dobias

For all those who get used to alligators being in a particular place, think again.  On one of the Myakka River State Park trails that we walk, alligators are typically on the other side of the river.  I assumed they were drawn to its sunnier location.  Saturday, however, they were on OUR side of the river.  Larry and I encountered our first "trespasser" slightly away from where some men were fishing along the shore.

Because they had discarded a very tiny fish along the trail, I checked to see if he were still alive.  He was.  Larry gently picked him up, cradled him in his hand and then proceeded to look for a safe place to introduce him back into the waters of the Myakka.  We expected that to be easy; get away from the alligator awaiting his free lunch, find an easy spot for the soft "toss" into the river, and life would be good.  Well, Larry found his perfect spot.  Gently he "tossed" the fish back into the water and back onto the shore the fish flipped!  A problem for sure!  He couldn't go down to the river's edge to retrieve the fish since alligators were hanging out on our side of the river.

He needed a long stick.  When there were no long enough branches to flip the fish back into the river, Larry went off in search of the PERFECT STICK.  In the meantime, the alligators were wondering what I intended to do.  "Did I have food or was I food?" they must have been contemplating..

Closer and closer they approached the shoreline.  I was above them, on top of the bank, maintaining eye contact with their eyes and occasionally with what their back-end might be doing.   My plan was to telegraph that I was a fellow predator.

My well-considered telepathy thoughts were not getting through though.  Closer and closer they edged out of the water while down the trail Larry sought the perfect stick.

Because the alligators were getting a little too close to where Larry would be when he returned with his perfect stick, I called out to him to be alert, that he had "friends" awaiting his return.  As Larry made his way back, the alligators must have sensed a possible danger coming.  Quietly they backed slightly away from the shoreline, sinking a little below the surface of the river and there they waited.

Larry, however, had other things on his mind.  Armed with THE PERFECT STICK, Larry had a fish to rescue.  He immediately went to work searching out the gymnast fish who was particularly adept at back flips.  Larry scanned right, he scanned left...no little guy.  He looked again.  Finally he lay down his perfect stick and backed away from the river, happy that the fish had rescued himself.

It's good to be a gymnast kind of fish...one dynamic flip...and THE PERFECT PLAN can come together!  Of course the alligators WERE a tad bit annoyed that no free lunch was forthcoming.