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Columns

April 2, 2013

Reflecting on a Florida trip

After spending two months in Florida, on the southwest coast, I have returned with a few major impressions of the region’s wildlife, and some experiences that are entirely unique for me.

All the publicity these days may be geared toward the pythons in the Everglades and the sinkholes that can swallow homes and the people inside them, but it is the more natural phenomena that I have found interesting enough.

I was a bit rusty during my first round of golf this winter, but I can’t say I wasn’t also a little lucky.

Bob, one player in my foursome, hooked his ball into a pond on the 15th hole. I went over to help him look for it and saw a ball just a few feet from shore in about two feet of water. I was crouched low, reaching into the water and just about to snare it when Bob yelled.

“Hey, don’t move, look ahead of you,’’ he warned.

I looked out and saw two eyes poking up out of the water about 10 feet away, staring at me as if the gator had missed breakfast that morning.

Bob said, “Back away slowly and get out of there, but if you see him coming, better move it.’’

I eased myself up and backed away, as the alligator coasted toward shore. No problem. And it took a few minutes to realize I had Bob’s ball in my hand.

There are stories every year of alligators attacking golfers who stray too close to ponds on Florida golf courses. Just last year near Lake Wales, Al Miller, the 75-year-old former Hartwick College soccer coach, had finished fishing for his ball with a retriever and turned to walk away when a nine-foot gator rushed from the water and clamped on one of his legs.

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