Saturday, March 10, 2012

Gators gators everywhere but not a snake in sight

I am in the South, people. Do you have any idea how long I have wanted to come here? For years. I want to see alligators. I want to see Eastern Diamondbacked rattlesnakes. I want to see cottonmouths.

I'm here! But I'm here in March! It's not herping season. I came not to herp, but to rub elbows with the best biology educators in the country. The people who learn how students learn. The people who work tirelessly to improve the experience of students in the biology classroom, and of those of us lucky enough to teach them. I am in great company.

And let me tell you, learning how to learn (and teach) is tough work. We have had talks, demos, sharathons, posters, and ridiculously amazing meals constantly since we've been here. Every so often I'll just start twitching, thinking about all those beautiful southern herps waiting outside the window of the Swanctuary (my fond name for our royalty-worthy hotel). Today, I twitched myself out of my seat and zoomed out during a short break, on a serious mission. Must. Find. Gators.

I immediately got lost in the labyrinth of chic bungalows, windy lanes, and golf courses in which the Swanctuary is situated. Then I saw him. A huge gator sitting along the fairway next to a pond.

As I stealthily sidled up to him for a better photo, I heard someone yelling to me that there were FOUR gators to see! As I looked around frantically, a golf ball whizzed through the air by my head, and realizing the error of my ways I slunk off the green before I was mauled by men with coiffed hair.

Having made my escape, I realized it was all about the ponds. I jogged over to the next pond, and lo! A beautiful wee gator was basking in the setting sun, complete with a testudinean entourage. Look people- this gator is smiling. Wide as can be. I agreed with him at that moment- life is damn good in the South.

And around the next bend, I find this fine fellow sitting in the shade. Come on over, I dare you.

As I was trying to take an artsy photo of him with the water in the background, another creature swam into view. Gatorland, USA!

Our interloper up close:

It may not be snake season. But it's gator season every day. Thank you, gators of beautiful South Carolina, for welcoming me to your beautiful state.