As a life-long Michigander for my first 53 years becoming a Floridian required many adjustments. It has been almost three years now since my wife & I have become permanent Florida residents and the adjustments are almost complete. One of the many adjustments required concerned Florida’s wildlife.
I no longer walk through our nearby nature preserve in constant fear that I will be attacked by a rattlesnake or any snake for that matter. I must admit that was always on my mind as I enjoyed my almost daily walks, hikes, jogs through it. I visualized myself miles from the entrance of the park being bitten by those two huge fangs frantically looking for someone to cut an X across my wound and suck out the venom.
Likewise, I was fearful to approach any pond’s edge equally fearful that a giant gator would suddenly surface in a froth of splashing water and pond scum then latch onto my leg and pulling me into the pond’s depths while doing a death roll.
And don’t forget the wild hogs! Evidence of them were all about the park from where they had torn up the ground like a rototiller while digging for food. I heard plenty of stories of them charging people and goring them like miniature bulls!
I’ve only mentioned a small fraction of the multitude of Florida’s wildlife hazards. Hell, I didn’t even mention sharks, panthers, giant spiders, scorpions, etc.
Franklin D. Roosevelt once wisely said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” The fact is after three years of living in Florida my prior fears have greatly eased. In fact, I am still waiting to see my first rattlesnake, I’m even going out of my way to look for them now. I can count on one hand the number of snakes of any kind I have encountered while on my jaunts.
It took me almost a full year before I spotted my first alligator and I’ve seen a number of them sunning on banks of ponds since then. None of them have let me within 50 yards before quickly scampering in the pond and disappearing under the water. I’m almost disappointed, as I haven’t been able to try out the zig-zag running pattern recommended when fleeing from a gator.
I know what you’re thinking. I’m jinxing myself. Probably within the next week, I will be bitten by a snake, chased by a gator, and run frantically from the ocean as numerous sharks circle me a few yards off the beach, but hey, I’m a Floridian now and you learn to adjust.