Sunday, May 25, 2014

Creature from the Parking Lot Lagoon

Who knows what the developers had in mind when they constructed the parking lot lagoon... Erosion control? Irrigation? Wetlands mitigation? 

Perhaps it already existed, a tiny little farm pond or watering hole, far out in the country-become-city that now describes so much of the Raleigh/Durham metropolitan area, and they simply spruced it up with an attractive retaining wall and some flower beds to avoid the hassles of filling it in. 

The tidy little wrought-iron fence, at first glance, appears to be just another decorative item, designed to bring the muddy little water hole into compliance with the appearance clauses in the town's master development plan.

But then the creature appears... 

One moment, the scummy green surface is broken only by the ripples of a few small bream, hoping for a crumb of bread or some stale potato chips from the busy passersby. Eyes wander to the far shore, where a tiny green heron stands motionless in the shallows, nearly invisible among the cattails; the eyes wander back, and there it is! 

Suspended completely motionless at the surface, cloaked in a living garment of furry green moss and algae, unblinking eyes focused intently ahead; 
a visual quandary that prompts the observer to abandon pitiful pen for camera lens, else to utterly fail in conveying this wonderfully terrible sight to the reader...

This amazing creature comes with more than just an algal entourage; a veritable fleet of fish follow where it goes - darting, dipping, nibbling and nipping. One wonders whether this is the safest of vocations, as this ferocious fellow looks more than capable of inhaling a few young sunfish with no effort at all.
One wonders as well whether the neat little fence was erected for more than aesthetics;
perhaps to deter unattended youngsters who might approach the quiet little pond curious and unawares...

Then, as suddenly as it surfaced, the massive mossback turns again to the murky depths from whence it arose.

With surprising speed and grace, enormous head and tail extended arrow straight, the bizarre beast takes flight, leaving most of its piscine followers far behind. 

Time for a couple of quick camera shots as its fearsome feet, claws extended, propel it down and away from prying eyes and lens, ever deeper into the lagoon.

And just as it reaches a depth impenetrable by human eyes, a pause; 
then a turn, and long look from the creature's remarkable eyes, gazing back from its murky milieu. 

Some of the earth's most ancient eyes, those of an old chelonian, 
Chelydra serpentina; 
eyes with a calm and open mien which seems to convey a message of empathy, not fear. 

This world is a place of constant, dramatic change, it's true.
Forty million years, or merely forty, both our kin have been around for plenty.

And now we see fences and retaining walls and acres of smooth fresh asphalt
where once grew naught but trees and fresh green grasses. 

Yet still we live, you and I; still we live.

Then the creature was gone, just like that.

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