Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

April 29, 2013

Gators and stuff

By Dick Platt
Corsicana Daily Sun

— As the professional golf tournaments make their way around Florida and the southeast (they’re in New Orleans this week), I have noticed that they play amongst a plethora of exotic wild life — especially alligators. I don’t think I like alligators — and I definitely don’t know how one could play an explosion shot out of a big sand trap with a 15-foot gator sunning himself at the other end of it.

I guess it is just a matter of time before I have my first face-to-face encounter with a gator. This development prides itself on its lakes, wetlands, littoral shelfs, restoration areas, and nature preserves, so I know they are out there waiting for me on my morning walks. So far, I have only encountered a magnificent bald eagle, several possums, and one big lizard with a Cockney accent who tried to sell me insurance.

The Isles of Sarasota puts out a homeowners association monthly newsletter called “Inside Edition.” It is just chock full of social and athletic activities as well as newsy items and contact numbers for various customer services. As a public service they published some advice put out by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for people hiking, hunting, fishing, and golfing in alligator country and it went like this:

“Take extra precautions and keep alert for alligators while participating in these sorts of outdoor activities. Wear noise-producing devices, such as little bells on clothing, to alert, but not startle the alligators unexpectedly. We also advise carrying pepper spray in case of an encounter with an alligator. It is also a good idea to watch for fresh signs of alligator activity.

In this regard, it is important to recognize the difference between young alligator and large adult alligator droppings. Young alligator droppings are smaller and may contain fish bones and possibly bird feathers. Adult alligator droppings have little bells in them and smell like pepper spray.”

I have mentioned the large influx of northern “Snowbirds” in this area and how important they are to the economy of Sarasota. There is a defined Snowbird season and the newspapers chronicle their comings and goings, their numbers from year to year, and their influx of dollars. You can look up “Snowbirds” on Mr. Computer and you find: advice from/for Snowbirds; banking for Snowbirds; how to become a Snowbird; directories to Snowbird rentals and RV parks; and even a checklist for Canadian Snowbirds. Some of the TV channels even have “Snowbird Reports.”

The front cover of this month’s edition of the aforementioned “Inside Edition” newsletter features an “Isles Departure Checklist” directed at Snowbird owners within the association. It expresses the property management’s wishes for “...a pleasant and safe trip north...” and then presents a full page of “...suggestions to prepare your home for your departure.”

The nice couple that just moved in next to us are Snowbirds from Cape Cod, Mass., and will be leaving here in mid-May. The Little Woman (don’t tell her I called her that) and I have volunteered to watch their place throughout the summer and they will migrate back down here in the fall. I know one thing for sure — even if we could afford to maintain two households, there is no way TLW and I would make that trek twice a year.

Here’s a cute little Snowbird story for you. A man and his wife were driving their RV across Florida on the way to Walt Disney World and they approached the town of Kissimmee, Fla. They both noticed the strange spelling and both of them argued about how to pronounce it. He insisted that the correct pronunciation was “KISS-a-me” and she was convinced it was pronounced “kis-a-ME.”

The argument grew more heated as they came into town and, since they were hungry, they pulled into a restaurant to get something to eat. They each bet the other the price of the lunch that they were right on the pronunciation of Kissimmee.

At the counter, the man said to the waitress, “My wife and I cannot agree on how to pronounce the name of this place. The lunch tab is at stake so will you please tell us where we are and say it very slowly so that both of us will understand?”

The waitress looked at both of them strangely for a moment, then shrugged her shoulders and said, “Buuurrrgerrr Kiiinnngg.”

See ya...

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Dick Platt is a Daily Sun columnist. His column appears on Tuesdays. Want to “Soundoff” on this column? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com