Gators and meadowlarks have mothers, too

Published 9:31 am Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I was floating down a Louisiana bayou when I saw a huge alligator. No surprise. It was a gatored community. Later, I saw a tiny alligator. I figured it was probably the first one’s grandgator. Then I noticed that it was keeping watch over smaller alligators.

An adult alligator is a foreboding reptile with few predators to worry about, but many animals hunt alligator hatchlings. Alligators exhibit a remarkable degree of maternal care. The mothers often guard the eggs during incubation and watch over the babies in the water. Young gators lead a matrifocal existence. Their lives are focused or centered upon the mother.

She does her job so that her young ones will grow up to be independent adult alligators who never write and never call.

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I thought of Mother’s Day. I should think of Mother’s Day each day of the year. An alligator is unable to send a Mother’s Day card or make a Mother’s Day phone call, as we should.

I’m a big fan of moms.

I had a great one.

She celebrated what she had and didn’t worry about what she didn’t have. She lived a life unbothered by competition or comparison.

My mother drove me to college. It was a 17-hour round trip. After my freshman year, she decided that she could no longer do that each day. I joke, but I have no doubt that my mother would have been willing to do this.

While in school. I had a mantra. It was, “I wish today was Saturday.”

I wanted a day free of both school and Sunday school.

My mother smiled and advised, “Don’t say that. You’re wishing your life away.”

Today, I wish that it were yesterday.

Mom loved watching “The Wizard of Oz.” It ran on TV once a year. We owned cows named Dorothy, Glinda and Auntie Em. Mom nixed naming a misbehaving Holstein Miss Gulch (the Wicked Witch of the West). Wicked wasn’t wanted.

My mother created a sweet place for me in this world. She taught me that I belonged even when I didn’t feel as if I did.

I remember when Mother had cataract surgery. It was more of a time commitment in those days than it is today. It required a hospital stay with Mother remaining motionless in bed with a cushioned brick pillow on each side of her head to restrict movement. The procedure improved her eyesight. On the way home, she had joked, “There are lines in the middle of the road!” Entering her home, the first thing she said was, “How long have those cobwebs been there?”

Don’t allow the words, “I love you,” to become unseen cobwebs on a wall.

Tell her now. Tell her often.

Happy Mother’s Day.


The song of the prairie

There was a splendor to the prairie. The tall grass dominated the landscape. A few trees in the distance huddled around a homestead.

I walked on a day that many people wouldn’t consider good for walking. I knew better. I’d just visited a friend who is confined to a wheelchair. Every day is a great day for walking. The wind was strong. I leaned into it so vigorously that if the wind had stopped, I’d have fallen on my face. My binoculars acted like a weathervane. A red-tailed hawk, after a lengthy struggle, had given into the wind and sailed away to a place betwixt earth and sky. A farm of wind turbines grew behind me. The blades were spinning, producing all-turn-ative energy. I’ve always suspected that those towering windmills produced wind.

I trudged on. Bluebird feet grasped barbed wire tightly and held on. I loved seeing the bluebirds. “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay. My, oh my, what a wonderful day.”

That’s a great song, but I strained my ear in the hopes of hearing another song. It arrived, like a long-wanted gift. The song of a western meadowlark cut through the wind. It was complex and simple at the same time. It was buoyant enough to float upon the wind so wonderfully that I wanted to go along with it. It was melodious and flutelike. And magical.

It’s impossible to describe all the wonders seen in a single, short walk. The wind brought it’s own song and found accompaniment in the grass, trees and birds. A sweet sound of forever.


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.