This is Sheriff Peanut Butter Brickle. You know, when you come to the South, you expect a few things. Mosquitos the size of birds. Or parrots. Roaches in your coffee cup in the morning. Yes, that has happened. Some of you may remember that. You expect sweet tea, fried chicken, biscuits covered in gravy, and caro syrup on your pancakes. You also expect alligators. And at first, I thought it was my imagination.
But when you see an alligator, you see an alligator. An alligator is not a possum or even an opossum. An alligator is not a raccoon with shoes or no shoes. An alligator is an alligator, any way you look at it. Even when it is crossing ten feet in front of you on a trail.
Now, you would think to yourself, that hey, you are in that Florida place. Alligators live there, Memaw Macaw lives there. There is lots of danger. And yes, you are correct. We take that into account every time we go hiking. And we know to look for alligators near the water. But hey, we were high and dry and it was like finding a pea in your peanut butter cookie. It was just out of place.
Sometimes, when you see something out of place, it takes you a minute to process it. It isn’t immediate. It’s not like you have time to take a picture of said alligator.
Deputy Digby saw it at about the same time I did. Girl Person was one second behind. But that one second was all it took for Digby and I to be dragging Girl Person back the opposite way. She saw the tail just in time, and like her Pappy, she was able to quickly calculate the length of the gator. She said that any size gator was big enough. But this one was a very fast, seven footer.
Even my handsome can’t outrun an alligator, and as we decided that our hike was going to be cut short, well, we realized that now we had to go back through the swampy part. And we did not know where this gator had went. By the way, you don’t have time to say or think of the word alligator when you are fleeing. Gator is all you time for. Y’all. You would think that panicking would have been the easy thing to do. But a Sheriff remains calm. A Sheriff calms down the crowd. A Sheriff walks slow, until he thinks about the alligator, then picks up his step. Faster and faster.
Now, you might think that we should never go on this hike again. But I have a question for you. Where did the alligator in fact go? We don’t know. Should we avoid the whole Florida place because we don’t know where he went? That is how some of us approach life. We let one thing that happens affect our whole day, our whole week, or our whole year. We dwell on it, we worry about it. But only when we learn from things that happen to us, even bad things, can we heal. We learned that hey…you need to be watching for alligators all the time, not just where you expect them to be. And sometimes, you have to just walk faster. We learned and we will return. What can you return to that scared you in the past? It might be different than you imagine. It might still have some of that wonderful that was there to start with. Pick up your pace.
-Sheriff Peanut Butter Brickle