Bands of color helpnewly-hatched and young alligatorshide themselves from predators. As they grow, the patterns and colors remain visible, although they begin to fade; asked to name the color of an adult alligator, most people suggest gray, black, or brown.
The alligators I see cruising our ponds and bayous or sunning on their banks tend toward a solid gray, so it was quite a surprise when this freckle-faced fellow surfaced at the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge. Over the course of three weeks, I watched him take on several challengers in what I assume were territorial squabbles; by the time I took this photo, he seemed to be the ruler of his pond.
He was by any measure the most beautiful — and unusual — alligator I’ve encountered. While alligators weren’t a part of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s world, I’m sure he would have recognized him as one of the ‘pied beauties’ celebrated in his poem.
Glory be to God for dappled things – For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings; Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough; And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange; Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him.
Comments always are welcome. As always, you can click on the image for greater size and detail.
Brazos River backwaters flowing into a culvert along Cow Creek Road ~ Brazoria County
It’s rare for sights along a Texas country road to evoke memories of Louisiana dancehalls, the simple pleasures of Atchafalaya nights, or Rodney Crowell’s perfect lyrics, but these ‘stars’ did just that. Unfortunately, my favorite Angelle’s Whiskey River Landing is closed, but music still flows ‘down da bayou,’ and the dancers still sparkle.
Down in Louisiana, bayous by and by A pirogue pole or your natural soul Keeps you tied to a tree high tide Beer joint lights come on And then the crowd starts rollin’ in ~
Pretty soon you got stars on the water Feels just like stars on the water You got stars on the water when it rains…
American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) ~ Brazoria Wildlife Refuge (Click image for greater detail)
When winter temperatures rise, so do American alligators: up and out of the muddy warmth that helps to keep them comfortable during the winter, and onto the bayou banks for a little mid-day sunshine. Still somewhat sluggish and still covered with a coating of sandy mud, this mostly-submerged gator rose into view so stealthily he failed to break his own reflection.
It’s hard to read an alligator’s expression, but I fancy he was as surprised to find me standing on the bank as I was to see him in the shallow water. We pondered one another briefly before he sank beneath the water’s surface: out of sight, but certainly not out of mind.