Mother of nine

… I came across this little family as I recently hobbled my way back to the car.  As I stood there, camera in hand, I couldn’t help but think how we vilify wonderful creatures like these, in order to justify our own treatment of them.

We animate them as violent, cold creatures, and portray them as serious threat to our children. And then we steal their environment, kill them in the tens of thousands, make a sport of it, watch them die on TV, and turn their skins into fashion accessories … not to mention those who proudly collect and display alligator skulls in their homes.

It is a distinctly human trait to kill for reasons not related to food, one that I will never understand.

So as the small crowd gathered around me as I took these pictures, there were “oohs” and “aahs” galore for the pretty little collection of babies. But scarcely a word for the mother who lay there protecting her young, exposing herself to danger and willing to give her life for the cause. She will stay as protector for the first two years, bringing herself close to starvation while making sure her babies have something to eat. Yet some 80% of alligators never make it to maturity. Yes … only one of these nine babies will make it ☹

I have had several close encounters with alligators on the trails I take and while one or two uncovered the fear of them that I too was taught, I was never in any real danger. In fact while writing this morning’s email I reminded myself of the terrifying growl that I heard when got within four or five feet of a  12 to 15 footer some time back ( ).

And so while I admit moments of fear, I guess the main message I have is that when we build characters up to a point of phobic-fear, it can undermine our own ability to understand them and even interact with them. There is a difference between being fearless and being reckless. I am working on the latter but thankfully I am making real progress on the former.

Have a wonderful week!

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