A three-legged alligator


I spent a warm, sunny day at Brazos Bend State Park near Houston. As it was warm the ‘gators were out, as well as many different birds. It was a day for using the binoculars and camera as well as the eyes; there was a lot of activity.

Well, it was the birds who were active. The ‘gators were pretty dormant, lazing and basking on the banks of the lakes and lagoons. One of them was stretched across the path. On such occasions it’s always a bit hairy walking past them. Signs tell visitors to allow a 30 foot wide berth of any ‘gators who are out basking. The path is rarely wide enough for this so by-passing them is done with great awareness, eyes everywhere (in the back of one’s head even), quietly, puposefully and with no apparent haste in case this disturbs them.

I passed this large specimen, sprawled on the path, after pausing at a resonable distance, to take the photo. I was focussed on the teeth and saw little else as it was a matter of pause, take picture, then get past swiftly and safely. It was only later when I looked again at the photo that I noticed the ‘gator was missing a back leg. Where it should have been there is just a wound.

I couldn’t help but feel some pity for this large and possibly old and disabled creature. How long would it last in the wild with only 3 legs? I know ‘gators can move fast on land, which is why it’s advisable to give them a wide berth and pass them with awareness, not startle them. I wondered if it had been in fight; I believe they do battle with unpleasant consequences (‘gator eat ‘gator). I wondered how it would fare in the water swimming with one missing leg .

I remember many years ago doing a visualisation exercise which focussed on the subconscious. In an underworld journey, I had to first pass an alligator, down in the depths. At that point, I’d never seen a real ‘gator, so simply tip toed past the imaginary alligator and continued on my way. I later gathered that others who had done the same visualisation baulked at passing the ‘gator and stopped right there. Maybe my innocence and lack of experience of the real thing enabled me to pass by the lurking ‘gator in the visualisation. Now I know what it’s like to really walk past real, living ‘gators.

I can do it, but with great awareness and respect. They are, after all, wild animals with a bit of a reputation!

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