There was a light fog in the air early yesterday morning as I made my way outside.  As usual I had to drag The Poodle out of his bed.  At nearly seven years of age he’s acting like an old stubborn man.

“Come on boy,” I said as I tugged at his collar.  “You need the exercise just as much as I do. Besides,  if I can get you tired enough you won’t be barking at the door half the day as the squirrels dance about the yard with sure intent to torment you.”

Once outside, he perked up immediately.  It was as if a switch had been flipped.  I was glad to see this; it lifted that familiar veil of guilt knowing that my fluffy four-legged love was not miserable from being plucked from his cozy bed.

I decided not to plug in to  music or TED talks on Stitcher this morning preferring the early morning quiet.  I needed to be lost in my thoughts–to think about changes that loom ahead– or, at least focus on my surroundings.  Mind you, it’s not as if we have spectacular vistas where I live. It’s quite an ordinary neighborhood…and down the hill from my house it’s positively boring.  There is one tiny red bridge next to a man-made pond to provide visual interest.  Woo-hoo…right? Nothing like my Southern California days with daily dolphin sightings, or the beauty of the Palos Verdes peninsula, or even people watching at the beach.

In fact, my daily walks here have grown a bit tedious because of the same old view.  As of late I’m even envying my old boss Jeff…the guy I purposefully refer to as “Sir.”  Sir lives in South Carolina, just a stone’s throw –if that–from the beach.  He frequently posts stunning photos on Facebook of his two Corgi’s frolicking on the beach.  And not a week goes by that he doesn’t post a spectacular sunrise or sunset photo.  Or a photo capturing the beautiful flora and fauna of where he lives or wherever his travels take him to.  In truth, Sir is an immensely talented photographer.  That’s his passion when he’s not working the daily grind in the tech industry.  That I know of, two of his photographs have graced the pages of USA Today newspaper. Every once in a while I check out one of the galleries he posts to, pbase to see if he’s added anything new.   I’m wowed every time.  But now, in the last month or so, Sir has been sharing truly amazing photos on Facebook from his own neighborhood…in essence, right off his back door step.  He’s got an alligator in his back yard.  Yes….an alligator….and from the photos, he looks to be a very large alligator!

“George” the Gator!
Jeffrey Lobaugh, Photographer

To clarify, the gator is not a pet (at least I don’t think so) but said gator seems to love hanging out just outside of Sir’s fenced-in yard.   The Corgi’s cannot possibly be happy about this.  Or, perhaps it’s just the sort of entertainment they thrive upon.  My poodle would be a barking whirling dervish of black fluff.  It would be impossible to get him to come inside as he’d be entirely deaf to any commands once he laid eyes on the gator.   Those who know me know that I’m not fond of things that crawl about (cooing babies would be the exception of course).  After all, I’ve always got a can of Raid within my reach to deal with nearly daily sightings of scorpions and spiders, big and small.   So it should come as no surprise that I’d be a complete basket case knowing an alligator was within breathing distance of my back door!  Come to think of it, I’ve asked Sir what his wife thinks about their backyard visitor and I’ve yet to receive a satisfactory reply.   Wait….could it be that…

Yikes!  (Panic!) No-no-no!!  Let’s strike that image from my mind…like right now!

Whew. Much better!

In any event, Sir has been posting these spectacular photos of the “little” fella on social media along with humorous commentary.  I call the little fella “George” for no particular reason other than it goes with gator rather well.  Admittedly, despite the fact that I’d be a complete mess of nerves there is something to be said for the “cool factor” of having a gator within feet of one’s back door, don’t you think?!    It’s also quite possibly a deterrent for family or friends visiting, which depending upon how one looks at it, could be a good thing.  In my neck of the woods I have to stretch quite a bit to find something even remotely as exciting off my back door step.  I haven’t even seen a snake on the back patio this year (not that I am complaining).   We’ve got all this construction in the area to thank for that.  Even the deer are fewer in numbers.  And yes, we have a fox that wanders along the back fence sometimes.  And there is that occasional destructive little devil–the armadillo– that, with The Poodle’s help, I have to chase out of the yard with a broom stick.

This morning though,  I happened upon a Great Blue Heron just down the hill in the tiny pond that the housing development refers to as a “lake.”  This cracks me up.  I’m surprised the heron didn’t fly off instantly since I did have The Poodle with me.  Perhaps the light fog momentarily dulled the heron’s senses? For a moment I stood under the weeping willow tree and gazed at the statuesque bird from afar.  He stood tall and stately but there was also an air of sadness about him.  I pondered this for a moment.  I don’t know much about these birds but I thought herons liked to be in large colonies.

“He’s got to be lonely.” I whisper to The Poodle.  Naturally, he’s not one bit interested.  He sees a squirrel and begins pulling in an attempt to run for it.  The movement is enough to scare off the heron.  He takes flight; his large blue-gray wings gracefully lifting him into the air, taking him to the next pond over.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

It’s not nearly exciting as George but there’s a reason for that.

It’s God’s way of protecting me from a heart attack.