One summer evening we were coming home from school. As I was turning the car around the dolphins’ water fountain I caught sight of a 5 feet alligator sunbathing on the little pond beach across the parking lot. I stopped the car, yanked Lana from the seat, and with her in my arms ran the two flights of stairs up to the apartment and grabbed the camera from the kitchen drawer. Thank God it had batteries! Ran downstairs (Lana still in my arms) and looked anxiously at the pond. The impenetrable beast didn’t move an inch. Can’t tell why I got so excited. We’ve seen plenty of alligators before, on the Louisiana swamp tour, at the Alligator Land in Myrtle Beach and just recently at the Riverbanks Zoo. Vivid images flashed in my head of back-breaking tons pressure jaw snapping monster that could swallow you whole in an instant. As Lana was getting restless trying to get a better view of the “crocodile” I decided it’s time to find shelter inside.
A month after I moved to Daniel Island I was struggling with the groceries bags. What looked like a bicycle tire laying 3 feet ahead right by the handicap parking started to move slowly towards the apartment building. It was a snake and it was big. Fascinated, I just froze and didn’t even put the bags down. The snake glided through the grass unfazed. Seconds later it was swallowed by the earth in the dusky light. I kept starring waiting for some drama to unfold. Nothing else happened so I reluctantly headed for the stairs. There were plenty of bags left in the car so I had to come back twice. Each time looked anxiously around tiptoeing and hoping my way around through the breezeway. With no sign from my reptilian friend, I was equally relieved and disappointed. Weeks later my mom and my 3 years old were coming back from the Children Water Park when they ran into another snake. This time there was no mistake about it. He was stretched along the road right in front of the Bistro. Maybe he was in for the dinner special. I’m surprised it wasn’t run over by the many cars passing by. My mom and Lana quickly turned around and took the long way home.
This February got a new digital camera, a S700 Fuji FinePix, with 7MP, 10x optical zoom, image stabilization and many other features I’ll probably never use. Thrilled to try my new toy went out for a stroll on the peaceful walkway around the Wando River. On the little bridge in front of the apartments I ran nose to nose with a great white heron. He was magnificent and he knew it. Like a pop diva he let me shoot at will. He even turned around for a close-up. Bet that’s his good side! Bored by my amateurish maneuvers he finally takes off. Few days later I met its cousin the great blue heron. He was resting by the famous alligator pond. Lana knew the drill and we ran inside the apartment and both brought our cameras. I got a great shot as he was fixing to take off.
To top it all off I had another avian encounter this time with a strikingly beautiful black crow posing on a pole. As I was fiddling with the aperture settings he condescendingly moved his head from side to side starring down at me. “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? Well I’m the only one here.”
It was late at night. I just passed the Seven Farms and River Landing intersection and could see the lighted oak tree welcoming me home once again. All of the sudden a dog jumped in front of the car and headed into the fields by the fire station. Hmmm…a stray dog…that’s really strange on Daniel Island. I’m glad I didn’t hit it. Never had a road kill before and sure didn’t want to start one now. Then the “dog” turned around and stopped about 30 feet away. He looked right at me as the car headlights were shining on his golden fur coat. At this point I realized it wasn’t a dog but a coyote. I stepped out to get a better look, expecting him to take off any minute. Three more steps. We starred at each other for what seemed like an eternity. He had an inquisitive and melancholic look, not at all afraid but rather curious. A strange sensation of guilt washed over me. The car, the offices, the road and even the lighted tree, all seemed out of place. I turned around feeling uneasy.
During my short stay on Daniel Island I was blessed with more wildlife encounters than in all the years I’ve lived in United States. This place is truly special. They’ve welcomed us into their home and seemed to have done a good job so far keeping the place intimately warm. We are the trespassers, so let’s gracefully accept their challenge in making the island a “home sweet home” for all.
I lost my footing
So I must rest alone
I’m leaving it up to you now
Take good care of the land
Believe me, it’s worth it.
Fresh cut grass
Wind in the water.
All we need it’s to breathe in
All we need it’s to smile out.