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Blog: Born to Write 

Manatees, Panthers, and Crocodiles - Oh My

Just back from South Florida, where I heard of some Northern folks (friends of friends) who had plans to go camping in the Everglades. I surely hope they knew what they were doing! My husband grew up in Collier County and sometimes camped, as a teenager, in the 'glades, and to this day he won't talk about it, knowing that I'm unnerved by gators and snakes and most everything else that bites and slithers. Even a manatee (sea cow) is scary if you encounter it by accident, at night. When my husband was growing up, and when I was a reporter in Florida in the 1980s, the Florida panther was on the edge of extinction. Now the majestic felines are making a strong comeback - strong enough that there are warnings, like deer crossing signs, for "panther crossings." A woman at one of my booksignings told me she almost hit one with her car! If that doesn't scare Yankees thinking of camping in South Florida, consider this: There are American crocodiles in some parts of far-south Florida. That's right, folks, as if alligators aren't freaky enough, that might be a crocodile (a more aggressive beast than a gator) lurking along the south shore of Marco Island. Of course, all of these critters have the right to be here! But it's a reminder that the Everglades is a place that commands respect.