C. Neuroticus Absolutus
We walk our golden retriever along the well-manicured thoroughfares that wind their way around the eighteen holes of the golf course our condos call home. Our dwellings rise a modest three stories along the Intracoastal Waterway amidst spindly pines standing incredibly plumb in soil whose tiny grains of sand were once boulders of great mountains that once towered along the Carolina coast protecting the inland forests from ravaging hurricanes and salt air. Many of the friendly residents get to know each other and socialize on their dog-walking excursions through the neatly planted flora. For the newer residents, especially those who mumble their names when they introduce themselves in deep North Carolina, Jersey Shore or other foreign accents, we merely refer to them as, “Lassie’s mom,” “Abby’s mom,” or “Sun Tzu’s” dad until we get to know them well enough to ask,” Just what the hell is your name, anyway?”
With rare exception, our furry children get along quite well. There’s always someone or something interesting to sniff, squat or hike a leg on.
We have the usual Southern critters that live in the patches of scrub oak: possum, raccoon, foxes, gray squirrels, black- and-white-faced squirrels rabbits and, of course, an Audubon Field Guide full of birds of the South. Around and in the ponds―water hazards, in golfer parlance―are snapping turtles, ducks, geese, an occasional Great Blue Heron, white egrets, cormorants and, a recent addition, alligators.
The geese and ducks nest on the banks of these strategically placed ponds. Residents with pond views from their porches or balconies enjoy the parade of mama goose and her goslings, or mama duck and her ducklings. And it’s a delightful sight to watch feathery processions stop vehicles as they cross the roads, their little butts a-wag, following Mom’s comforting clucks.
Still, as charming a sight as they are, the ducks and geese are the bane of golfers. “I’m so sick of stepping in goose poop I swear I just want to take a nine iron to them.” That’s nice-guy golfer talk for, “Next time I come here, I’m gonna carry my 12-gauge in my bag, get me a couple of them and boil the filthy bastards in a big pot!”
My thoughts are, “Hey, you got eyes. Watch where you’re walking.” Or, “Keep your damn ball on the fairway, dude.”
I’d probably speak out except that, as a friend says, “they’ve got NRA stickers on their bags and bumpers.”
So, this past year, at least for our golf course, enter the alligators, instant saviors of golfers and their expensive footwear. We still have some geese, but they just congregate along the banks of the ponds, apparently intelligent enough to recognize the danger in those two beady eyes that lock on and follow their every move.
I can’t understand the intolerance of man when it comes to sharing the land with the creatures native to the environment for centuries before humans decided they needed two-hundred golf courses along the Grand Strand of South Carolina.I finally saw one of the scaly critters sunning on the banks of the 18th hole as I walked my thirteen-year-old golden. I prayed he wouldn’t see the gator and start barking at it because neither he nor I can run fast enough to get from the grocery store ice cream freezers to the cash registers without the whole quart melting. I took my dog home, drove back to the clubhouse and informed the manager that he had a four-and-a-half to five-foot gator soaking up the afternoon sun not 50 yards from his door.
“Yeah, we know they’re there. Called the appropriate agency to get them removed. They come out here, looked them over and said they weren’t big enough to move.”I went back to my car wondering just how the hell big does a gator have to be before being considered a big enough threat to have it removed? Ten feet? Twelve? Four-hundred pounds, maybe five?
Or is it determined by how many pets it consumes, or little children?
Of course, the golfers don’t want them removed. “They keep the ducks and geese off the course.”
Thank God nesting time is over for the year. I dread what will most likely happen next spring.
But life goes on.
Oh, and sometimes, in complete irreverence to select neighbors, we covertly refer to them as “Benji’s or whats-its-name’s asshole dad.”
Of course, it’s rude. But, that’s what you get for not having an NRA sticker on your bumper.