The steep cattail edge dropped into a tea-colored pool, just inland from the coastal dunes. Sunlight bounced off the burnt-amber bottom to a depth of two feet, then vanished in a dark abyss further out, where creatures lurked. From the deep, snapping turtles, bass, gar, and water snakes appeared in silent shadows, then were gone. A green heron gingerly picked its way along the far bank, thirty feet away, looking for a morning’s meal—wary.
Like a half-submerged log, a dark-brown shape rose through the still surface without a ripple. A rough bridge joined its raised snout to unblinking ocher eyes. It watched me. An intruder? A meal? I stared back for several minutes from the safety of land. At last, the alligator’s patience exceeded my own, and I wandered off.