You say “central Florida” to most people, and they think of Orlando. Say “Orlando” and people think “Disney.” Fair enough. But most of the fun happens on the two coasts. Well, not that much fun. It’s generally the cultural equivalent of Wal-Mart around here.
I take solace in the abundant bird life. Northern Mockingbirds sing almost year-round, even at night. Black Vultures, those amazingly graceful fliers, soar on warm thermals. A Red-shouldered Hawk comes to visit fairly often. Water birds are everywhere: White Ibis, Great Egret, Tricolored Heron, Great Blue Heron, Sandhill Crane, Anhinga, Wood Stork. I’ve even seen a Red-footed Booby or two. They make the nine-month long summer a tad more bearable.
Not all of the wildlife is as much fun, however.
I live on the east coast of central Florida. Directly across the state, on the west coast, is Pinellas County. Late Monday night, in the little town of Oldsmar, a sixty-nine-year-old woman named Sandra Frosti walked into her kitchen to find an eight-foot alligator in the middle of the floor.
She says the gator must have pushed through the back porch screen door and come inside through an open sliding glass door. It then walked through the living room, down a hall, and into the kitchen.
A trapper with Animal Capture of Florida removed the alligator, which had been cut when a plate was knocked to the ground.
Two years ago the little church up the road had a gator try to break into its sanctuary. The tiny pond at the end of the strip mall where I get my hair cut had two alligators in it for a while. And I remember going to my favorite park to pet the manatees one afternoon, and watching a gator on the other side of the lake making mincemeat of some poor critter.
Better than having one in your kitchen, I suppose. See you later, alligator.