Monday, March 08, 2010

After the Extreme Cold

Fast and wide, the Oklawaha River put on an extraordinary show today. Our very wet "dry season" combined with an unprecedented cold winter created conditions of rarity and delight.

oklahawa riverThe water was incredibly high and the current swift.

alligatorsAnd oh, the alligators! The critters were out in numbers as the air finally warmed above the water temperature.

reptilesMost were timid, however, as if the extreme cold had left them feeling vulnerable. Even the usually congenial turtles who adore striking a pose would have nothing of our stalking canoe. Snakes were not to be seen and I searched for them in earnest. Most likely still sleeping away the deep chill.

ocala national forestOnly the big guns allowed approach and even they slid into the watery depths as we neared. Nervous was the atmosphere.

gatorsNext month will mark the beginning of breeding season and caution will be the operative word. The gators will become territorial and hold their ground making even a seasoned reptile lover such as myself hesitate. But today I was queen of the river!

I have an underwater camera just in case I crash my car into a river, and at the last minute I see a photo opportunity of a fish that I have never seen. - Mitch Hedberg

P.S. As we returned to Gore's Landing, a big fish suddenly propelled itself high out of the water towards me - barely missing the canoe. For a micro-second, in mid-air, our eyes met with astonishment and our mouths went agape. It was the heart-pounding moment of the afternoon.

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