A New Home for the Alligator?

December 10, 2007
By Kristin Canedo, Destrehan, LA

I spent most of my hot summer days when I was nine on Ormond Village. The appeal was understandable. After all, my close friend Lindsay lived at the end of the street, and our meeting grounds, a much loved ditch, were only steps away. This ditch, with its rocks and pond, let our imaginations run wild. It was easy for us to believe that her neighbor was a mass murderer or that chickens ran wild leaving prints in the mud. We loved every minute of the time we spent playing by the ditch, never worrying that an alligator might be lurking in the pond into which we frequently flung rocks. Warning me about her reservations about two girls playing by the railroad tracks, she failed to mention alligators. How silly of her!

The sun was blazing on this Louisiana summer day that was just like all the others. I made the trip down the street, my legs pumping to make my purple bike go as fast as possible, an ecstatic smile on my face. Lindsay and I were prepared for a day of fun in the sun by the railroad tracks. We ran full speed down a small slope that was the beginning of the ditch and ran up the other side to have access to the rocks and small pond. The rocks chosen were perfectly white and ideal for pelting inside a storm drain. Sticks were common in the pond due to the great trees that swayed overhead; however, sticks that moved were an unusual sight. On closer examination, we discovered this stick was none other than a nice baby alligator.

Baby alligators are not like puppies or kittens; they are still very big and can cause harm to little girls who decided to go play by the rail road tracks. Looking back, this was not one of my smartest moments. Faced with this abnormal and unprecedented event, I would like to say I reacted well and am a regular Jeff Corwin, but then I would be lying. I do not think yelling, “Oh my gosh! That’s not a stick! RUN!” goes under the category of reacting well. In the heat of the moment, we did not even remember to run in sharp turns like our science teachers recommended if we ever came in contact with an alligator. What girl thinks she is going to encounter an alligator, so it is safe to say I wasn’t listening attentively. We took off running down the slope to get out of the ditch and out of the proximity of any kind of creature with short legs, scales, and sharp teeth. Thinking that the alligator was going to eat us at any second, we didn’t stop running until the doors were safely locked in Lindsay’s room. Alligators had the ability to get in little ponds by ditches. Who says they couldn’t open doors either?

The next day we returned to see if the alligator police had come to remove the young reptile. We turned the corner to find three boys standing on the very storm drain that was the home to the alligator just hours before. Apparently, word had spread that a mom alligator was also living in the pond, and the boys were out to catch it! My mother warned me to be extra careful and at times she would not let me go at all. Of course mother knows best and me running home, face flushed, talking about alligators just feet from me showed how silly it was for us to be playing there in the first place. At least we were smart enough to run.

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