Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Morning Reports

My mom used to say that I made her go to the hospital early one winter morning to give birth to me and never let her sleep late again. When I have houseguests, I am usually up and about the house and have breakfast ready when they finally roll downstairs for coffee. Heck, even my Weekend lie-in usually is characterized by my sleeping until nearly seven!

So, I guess it is no wonder that I love watching the early morning news. The first thing I do on waking up, after reaching over the side of the bed and giving Saga a pat on the head, is to turn on one of the morning reports. This morning's report was about what I have come to expect. Along with the usual blather: what the president said or did yesterday, coverage of the war, and the obligatory "human-interest" story – this morning it concerned a mail carrier who carried the day by catching a baby that fell out of a window.

This morning there was also, what is called in the industry, a "Man-Bites-Dog" story. This is usually a news or human-interest story that has some odd twist. This morning's news included the story of a woman who had encountered an intruder in her kitchen. She walked it and surprised the intruder standing right there by the sink. But not as much as the intruder surprised her! The intruder was an eight-foot alligator.

Reports vary (I've now seen this story from a few sources) as to what the alligator was doing in the woman's kitchen (it probably came in searching for a meal – possibly stalking the woman's pet cat), but they all agree on one thing: the animal control authorities will probably destroy the creature. The usual reason that they give for destroying an animal under these circumstances is that they (the animals) have "lost their fear of humans."

Poor thing! It was just hungry and who would have really missed a cat? Besides, I have the same problem with this story that I did with most of the stories that are set in The Everglades – Remember the plane that crashed into the everglades a while back? The reports kept referring to the everglades as an "alligator infested swamp."

For one thing, the everglades is a river, not a swamp! There is a definite and discernable flow from Lake Okeechobee (or there was until the Army Corps of Engineers got their hands on it!) to the straights of Florida. In its original configuration, the river was about half-as-wide as the state for much of its path, spreading out into a delta that formed most of the south coast of the the state down by The Keys. 

For another there is that word "infestation!" Do they (the reporters) even know what this word means? It is defined as a "harassing or troublesome invasion." There is the implication of some pest that doesn’t belong. The Everglades is not an "alligator infested swamp," it is an "alligator inhabited river!"

In the case of the alligators and South Florida, we are the infestation! It is not possible for alligators to infest the everglades… they live there! We encroached on their territory. I may no longer live in South Florida, but I grew-up there and still love the area. It is really annoying to see people move into an area they do not understand and destroy the local ecosystem.

It is one day after earth day! Have you already decided to turn your back on Mother Nature? Darn! That was quick!

Wherever you are this morning, I hope that you'll respect your mother.

Don Bergquist – April 23, 2008 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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