Hi again everyone. Yesterday, my faith in the postal service was restored when we received a package which had been posted to us just over a month ago from the USA. We were just on our way out of the gate for a walk along the beach promenade, when we stopped to check our postbox. A rather battered large white envelope lay inside, and we were amazed to see that it was a long lost package containing two copies of a club magazine for which I’d written an article about the capturing of an alligator outside our house in Florida.
The address was incomplete, and the country had been omitted. It was obvious from the note written on the left hand side of the envelope, “not Australia, try South Africa”, that it had been all the way to Australia before eventually finding its way into our post box. What a jet setter! Obviously someone in the Australian post office had the patience to try to find out where it was really bound for. Maybe he or she was an ex South African and recognized the ‘Umhlan Rocks’, even though it should have read ‘Umhlanga Rocks’. Someone has blacked out the postal code; not sure why, but it still arrived at the correct address. I would call that some sort of a miracle, for sure.
Here is the magazine article about ‘Mr Smiley’, our resident alligator who used to live in the small lake just outside our Florida home.
“Our first sighting of the ‘Ashford alligator’ was on June 6th, 2011. I remember it well. Hubby was making breakfast and called to me, “Come and have a look at this!” I hurried through to the kitchen, expecting to see one of our resident herons, pelicans or perhaps just a cute little rabbit. Imagine my surprise when It was none of these, but a rather large “Mr Smiley,” as I came to nickname him. He was sunning himself on the bank across the lake.
Not long after that, we had to return to South Africa and only returned to Florida in October, and on November 10th, we spotted Mr Smiley again, this time swimming across in front of our house.
He looked much bigger this time, and chatting to our roof buddy, we decided we weren’t entirely comfortable with his presence, especially with grandchildren coming to visit shortly. We’d also noticed that the bird life had considerably diminished, probably owing to the fact that he was eating all the fish and probably some of the water birds as well.
One day when our son and his family who were visiting from New Jersey, they came back from the pool in the late afternoon to get the grandchildren bathed and ready for dinner. Hubby and I opted to stay a while longer at the Club to have some tea before heading back to the house. When we arrived home about half an hour later, we were greeted with, “You’re going to be so sorry you didn’t come back with us; you missed all the excitement.” I immediately thought of ‘Mr Smiley’, and asked, “Oh, did you see the alligator?” “Better than that,” he replied, “I helped to catch him and lift him into the truck. He was 9 feet long and weighed about 250 lbs.”
He told us that when he’d pulled into the driveway, he’s seen someone down the side of our house, dragging something across the ground, which he’d assumed to be a hosepipe. As he got out of the car and unstrapped the baby seat, the guy called out to him, “Oh good, can you help here? I need some muscle!” He then realized that he was pulling this huge alligator up from the lake, towards the road. He took the baby inside, whilst his wife stood on the neighbor’s driveway to watch the action and take some photos.
The ‘gator’s mouth hadn’t been taped at this stage, so our son was a bit wary, but he’s always been one for a bit of excitement. Our next door neighbors had spotted ‘Mr Smiley’ earlier, on the bank at the back of our house, and reported it immediately to the proper authorities. The trapper arrived quite quickly and using a snatch hook and line, managed to secure it. Luckily for him, help was at hand when son arrived home. When asked what would happen to it, he replied that it was being taken to ‘gator jail’ as he was much too big to relocate.
We do rather miss him in a funny sort of way, but feel much safer now to walk out onto our back lawn. Coming from Africa, we never dreamed that we’d encounter such wildlife here, so close to our new home.”
Wishing you all a very happy and enjoyable weekend. Chat again soon.