I am writing a series of blog posts which may become a short book of daily meditations on the natural world. Some of these entries began as short articles published in newsletters and periodicals. Some began as performance pieces read or recited to live audiences. In some cases, I learned the hard way how long is too long for a performance piece. I also learned that the tolerance for lengthy pieces varies from one audience to another in sometimes unpredictable ways.
Some of the pieces were written as short essays and combined for submission to journals as braided essays. Longer pieces are fine as essays, but do not work well as orations, so I have unwound a few essays into component parts to create the short meditations presented here and for use in performance art.
In most cases I have included citations to places where the reader can find more information. Use of these references is, of course, up to you, but I want your experience of the pieces to be as much about you, the reader, as it is about me, the author. I have also posed questions which you may view as a starting point for your own meditation, an opportunity for rebuttal, or questions to be ignored. A few people may view them as a writing prompt. Posting them on my blogs creates opportunities for reply.
Bull ’Gator’s Lament
What’s that man lookin’ at, down here in this cypress swamp, so thick with branches that the sun barely gets through? He’s lookin’ at me, Old Bull ’Gator, and I’m lookin’ at him. Why don’t you come on over for dinner?
Speaking of dinner, you should have been here when I grabbed that turtle from his sunny spot over there by the water hyacinths. When I broke through to meat, those tourists thought a rifle shot had gone off. Fish, man, bird, or turtle, I get my dinner.
Sometimes, man eats us though. He’ll come down to this swamp and put a bullet in a ’gator’s brain. Those poachers don’t waste any time. They skin the ’gator out right here and cut up the tail meat for Cajun delight. The hide gets made into boots.
The poachers never got me though. Bigger ’gators missed their chance too. I had to be careful when I was young, because we been known to eat our own. But now, I’m king of this here swamp.
Springtime is my favorite time of year, with Spanish Moss fluttering in the breeze, like curtains in an old mansion house. That’s when I get to bellowing. My bellows echo off the cypress trunks and all through the swamp. Those lady ’gator’s bellow right back. When one of them judges Old Bull fit, we spin like two demons in a whirlpool.
Pretty soon, she will be building a nest out of mud and sticks. When the eggs hatch that fierce old momma ’gator hears those young’uns grunting She gently pulls the nest apart and tenderly frees the baby ’gators. That’s when she won’t want Old Bull around, because we’ve been known to eat our own.
Maybe I’ll just wonder off and watch those fishing boats go by. Perhaps one of them will flip over. Man, fish bird or turtle, I get my dinner.
Look over yonder at those little ’gators sunning themselves on their momma’s snout. I believe one of them is a baby bull. He will have to grow some before he can be king of my swamp.
Bull ’Gator’s Lament is a performance piece, generally well received by the audience. It was once much longer and is now shortened to a length that works better. I will continue to refine it as I present it at more venues. It is of course, pure fantasy. For a factual look an alligator’s habitat, read Everglades, River of Grass by Marjory Stoneman Douglass
For the Reader:
Though nature is sometimes portrayed in the cuddly realm of soft bunny rabbits and downy goslings, predation is a day to day reality. Some animals are downright frightening.
How to you perceive the natural world?
Is it a resource for the creation of wealth through extraction of such materials as timber and coal?
Is it a wilderness to be protected, or perhaps tamed?
Is it a place of solace and healing?
Is it a frightening place?