Have you ever been chased by an alligator?

Have you ever had one try to flip you into the water?

I can say yes to these questions. And my mother was diligently advising me NOT to run as that was the warning on the cute gater-shaped signs placed at intervals along the paths and bridges.

It’s still humorous when we talk about it.
The Audubon Swamp is at Magnolia Plantation, a beautiful old colonial on the Ashley River, in Charleston, SC. We had arrived early and decided to go to the swamp before the heat of the day. The bridges, dikes and walkways protrude out over or into the water so that you can get up close to all kinds of plants, trees, and creatures. It is a fascinating place to explore and I do recommend it.

However, on this particular morning, my mother and I were only joined by a pair of photographers. A great time to be out in the midst of the cypress knees and herons, but also for the alligators. We could see them swimming toward us like sticks with eyes. The photographers had professional cameras – long range lens. I had a Cannon 35mm – it was immediately prior to the digital I now have. Concerned that I wouldn’t be able to capture a good likeness to show my son, I looked around for something a little closer and found it.

In a little cove where the dike turned a corner – very near the ground but beneath the water entirely except for two marble-like eyes – lay an alligator. Tiny bubbles filtered up to the surface and I was certain that I could get close enough to capture its eyes.

The only thing I could ever figure out, was that the cove was shaded and my camera had an automatic flash which apparently ticked off the alligator. It shot straight up out of the water and did an aerial sideways flip that I am certain was meant to knock me into the swamp along side him. I screamed and took off running and he shot up again and started after me. The pair of photographers were so impressed with the show that they came towards me to capture it in film, which made the gater decide to slither back into the water.

My mother, as previously stated, is yelling for me not to run and now the photographers want me to see if I can get him to do it again.

You are bleeping kidding me, right?

I was recovering from a broken foot, had a tiny calf from wearing the dreaded ‘boot’ and not applying weight to that leg. There was no way they could interest me in a redo on that one! Yikes!

Everybody survived though, including the gater.

Photo courtesy of Andobon Swamp

Photo courtesy of Andobon Swamp

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