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Three Ladies, a Canoe . . . and a Gator
by Ms Southern Orchid (Mary)

Here's a delightful story told in verse about
three young ladies and an exciting canoe trip.
The actual event occurred in 1970, but the
face of that gator is still quite real to Miz Mary.


Well, there we were on the river
down near the Florida swamps,
enjoying our canoe trip,
till we hit a bunch of stumps.

Tree stumps buried 'neath the water--
bump! we wedged the boat on top.
Stuck right fast we were, no loosenin',
as we made our sudden stop.

"There's snakes in there," I whispered,
"and there's gators all throughout."
I was numb with heebie-jeebies,
as I sat back with a pout.

"I'm not jumping in that water,"
I exclaimed with shaky lips.
"Looks as if we're stuck forever.
I detest these kinds of trips!"

There we sat, all cold and hungry,
and the sun was setting soon.
Then we all began to fidget
as we spied the rising moon.

"Okay, girls, I'll try to free us,"
said I, wishing for a phone.
"We can't sit here all in darkness,
it's no place to be alone."

Easing into swampy water
I was now a yummy feast
For the animals aswimmin' . . .
For the ugly gator beast.

I reached down to tear the big limbs
and the stump that held us tight.
"Oh, dear Lord," I moaned in terror,
"I just need a bit more light!"

I was praying, "Please don't let me
grab mean creatures thick with germs,
'cause dear Lord, you know how terribly
I hate anything that squirms!"

Then quickly the canoe was moving
as it lurched from off the tree.
I heaved a sigh and started cheering
as my buddies squealed with glee.

Just then I caught a tiny movement
from the corner of my eyes.
A nasty gator swam straight toward us,-
The awful thought still terrifies!

"Hurry up!" I heard the screaming
as I climbed with all my might.
That gator looked so doggone hungry
and he had me in his sight!

I swung my legs into the boat then
as the gator tried to bite.
His jaws locked on the oar thrown at him--
he was ready for a fight.

We beat that alligator off
with whatever we could find.
I even threw my shoes in at him--
a most expensive kind!

Later, as we rowed to shore,
a prayer was pounding in my heart.
"That gator's aim was off, Lord,
or he'd torn me slap apart!"

"And please, should I decide, Lord,
to canoe again, I pray
you'll drop a brick upon my head
to remind me of this day."


Mary writes: "Yes, this really happened to me and two friends of mine many years ago, in 1970. Originally, a boyfriend of one of the other girls was supposed to go with us, but he opted out at the last minute. Soooo, we three girls decided to go it on our own. Big mistake! It's funny when I look back on it now, but it was not so funny at the time.

BIO: I grew up in Naples, Florida, which was a very small seaside town back then -- a wonderful place to grow up. I practically learned to swim before walking. I grew up eating Guavas, mangos, oranges and wonderful key lime pies, along with all the basic Southern foods, of course.

I have two wonderful children and a beautiful three year old grandaughter, whom I adore. I have been writing poetry off and on for many years.

E-mail Mary at MsSouthernOrchid@aol.com.

COMMENTS on this story:

FROM: Sonya
MESSAGE: Mom, why didn't you ever tell me this story? That was a very funny story and I'm glad that it didn't happen to me. LOL I love you.

From: Patricia Barlow
Message: I am your sister and I've never heard that story. But I do remember the swamps. You also brought back childhood memories about mangos, oranges, and the pies. But do you remember the coconut trees in front of PawPaw and #1 Daddy's house?

From: the writer, Mary
Pat, my baby sister. Yes, this is one story you never heard. Growing up in different homes, so many years apart, makes for some different memories also. You were still a little girl living at home with our Dad and your Mom (my stepmother) at that time. I was grown and out on my own at the time of the ill fated canoe trip incident!

I remember well the coconut trees at our grandparents' home.(For the benefit of the other readers, we called our paternal grandmother PawPaw and our grandfather was #1 Daddy when we were kids.) When I was a young girl, the little neighbor girl and I spent many hours climbing those trees. We would pick the coconuts and then throw them on the sidewalk over and over until they finally split open, and then we would get to eat the wonderful fresh coconut inside. Sometimes our grandmother would grate the coconut and sprinkle it over a freshly baked coconut cake with loads of yummy coconut frosting. We had wonderful big Sunday dinners back then of fried chicken or roast beef and potatoes, plenty of fresh greens flavored with bacon drippings, corn bread or biscuits. The word cholesterol was unheard of back then!

After dinner, a short nap, and then we would walk the three blocks to the beach for an afternoon of swimming and fun. These are just a few of my wonderful childhood memories. Nothing beats growing up in the South!

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