An Alligator Tale

Have you ever read about alligators on a blog like mine? Didn’t think so. But my hospice patient Fernando (not his real name) told me something about them that keeps sticking in my mind, which was but one of many offbeat subjects he brought up during his very long talk with me:“I like to stay here in New Jersey because it’s safe and I like cold weather. Out there in Florida you know what happens? During the dry season, gators go into people’s swimming pools.” I could not help but say, “Come now. How could that be?” Fernando replied, “No, no, it’s true. In the dry weather there is less water and so they look for it wherever they can find it.” I vowed that I would look this up after the visit.

Sure enough, the Internet yielded many stories about alligators in swimming pools, especially gators nine feet or longer. (You can see the videos for yourself on Youtube and elsewhere.) Well, okay, if you really insist on seeing one of them, here’s a sample link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8zZZcO1BHs

At any rate, since I wanted to know not only if this were true but why, I got an answer from a CBS News article published in May 2017 called, “Look Before You Leap: Massive Alligator Lurks at Bottom of Florida Pool”. As to why the alligator wanted to be there, “a public information officer for the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said, ‘Let this be a reminder that it’s mating season in Florida and these creatures, especially the females, are on the move looking for areas to lay eggs.’” Okay, I get it. There isn’t much water available during a dry spell and the pregnant or pregnant-to-be gators are desperate for any body of water, no matter how small.

Now you know. And now you know how I can still do hospice work after eleven years on the job. It’s not all about dying and funerals I look forward to talking with Fernando again, especially because at the end of that most recent conversation, he asked if I could have a volunteer come visit and read out loud Don Quixote to him. I can’t wait to hear why he asked for that particular book. If the answer  is um “novel”  I’ll let you know.

Barnyard Stories

Former farmer race horse trainer and bar owner Trisha regaled me with some “stories I swear are the truth.” Who wouldn’t want to listen to a story teller with a triumvirate of careers like that?  This is when visits with my hospice patients get entertaining, which in turn feeds this blog. Her first story was about three ducks. “I was in a gardening store and I saw three ducks there, looking like the owner wanted to sell them soon or who knows what might happen to them. So I was worried about them, and I offered to pay whatever he wanted. And when I offered to do that, he said I could have ‘em for free. For free? I couldn’t believe it; I was ready to pay whatever he wanted. So I took ‘em. Well I knew there’d be trouble with my husband when I brought them home, but you see I was worried about what would happen to them. Anyway, when I got home, I put ‘em in the bathtub.” At that point I did become skeptical, so I said, “In the bathtub? Well what about bathing?” Trisha just went right on. I guess she took literally the idea of associating ducks with bathtubs. “My husband wasn’t so pleased with that. Well eventually I got one of those outdoor plastic pools, you know, and I put the ducks there.” I could just picture the cute little darlings splashing around, and the husband (now her “ex” go figure) grunting his displeasure mixed in with resigned tolerance.

She had one more story for me: “I saw this chicken dragging its leg along, and I took it to our farm because I wanted to rescue it. I was so stupid; I put it on the ground to let it do what it wanted. And then nine vultures came down from all around, and then there were feathers all over as they grabbed it and tore at it and hauled it off. They went and killed it,” she said shamefacedly. Maybe after that she stuck with caring for horses.

I wanted to hear more stories, but by now Trisha had run out of energy. Next time, though, and if she is game, I hope to hear about the horses and her bar, and then make you privy to her anecdotes as well.