SEE YA LATER ALLIGATOR

Won't You Be My HoneyThe first time I spotted the alligator in the murky waters of a man-made lake framing luxurious condos on one side and a city park on the other, I worried aloud for the safety of the mallards, Muscovy, and white, waddling ducks, the snapping turtles, giant goldfish, flock of pristine egrets, and wading blue heron, making their homes in the marshes there.

“And, the kids who play in this park,” my sweetheart added.

I didn’t respond. Not that I would ever want a person of any age to be harmed by an alligator, but there was no imminent danger in that. Only the nature-preying-nature lurked.

The lake is more for show and tell by realtors looking to justify pricey units with a view. There’s no swimming allowed, and since it’s illegal to feed wildlife in Florida outside of a reserve, observing nature in this park is mostly done from a deck built 15 feet above, and stretching 20 feet out over the water, where picnic tables are placed for brown baggers wondering what so many thieving sea gulls are doing there, some sixty miles inland.

At first, all I saw were the mammoth marble shaped alligator eyes, trolling the lake’s surface, leaving innocent ripples of water in his wake.

“Or,” she said when I pointed out the marauding eyeballs, “it’s a submarine.”

“No, hon, I’m pretty certain it’s an alligator.”

“But, I’m thinking —  if it is a submarine…”

“It’s a gator, okay?”

“I’m just saying what it could be,” she persists, as the tire tracks of its back emerges. “Or, maybe one in camouflage to look like an alligator, so no one would suspect.”

Really, who am I to say otherwise? I thought.

We only visit this particular park once a year, in September or October, depending on what date the High Holy Days fall.

I won’t expound on the significance of these 10 days for those of you who aren’t Jewish, but I will share the custom of casting bread upon the water (tashlikh) as a symbol of one’s transgressions being disposed of. Unlike other religions, Jews don’t believe in original sin. Instead, we’re born pure, acquiring our indiscretions with age, intent, or ignorance along the way.

But, if we’re sincere in saying “I’m sorry” to those we’ve wronged, and have done good without expectation in return, and made an earnest effort to mend fences, the sin slate gets wiped clean on Yom Kippur, giving each of us another chance to get life right, and do it better.

The disclaimer appears in the setting of the sun, symbolizing the closing of the Book of Life, when even nonbelievers (secretly) want their names, and those of their loved ones inscribed therein — although no one learns who makes the cut until the High Holy Days roll around again the following year. (Because only those remaining in the here and now know if they were inscribed back in the then and there.)

For the record, I’m very disorganized about organized religion, to the point of anti-it.

But I do like everything about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the culmination of 10 days of introspection, taking stock of one’s life, offering amends, being grateful for whatever cards have been dealt, making promises and looking forward while witnessing the sun sink behind the trees, or beneath the ocean, or into the hills.

Of course, I’m pulling for more than family and friends. I want my pets to be included in that Book of Life, too, and mercy shown for all the animals on earth. I want children to be protected, and hurts healed. I want every woman to fall in love with the person who has fallen in love with her. My list is long. I ask a lot. It takes me the full 10 days to catalog all the hope in my heart.

…and more

 

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THE ABOVE EXCERPT IS FROM:
Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019

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Marguerite Quantaine is an essayist and author.
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13 thoughts on “SEE YA LATER ALLIGATOR

  1. humanevolunteers

    Beautifully written. Sorry for your losses. As we age, there will be many more losses. This is the circle of life. As for religion, I am a Christian. You see, Christianity IS Jewish. Without Jewish history, how could we ever understand Christ?

    Reply
  2. margueritequantaine Post author

    I think we’d all be better off if we listened to our hearts more, Donna, and I’m certainly glad to know you follow yours. Be well and of good cheer, my friend. Thank you for sharing what makes you so wonderfully you.

    Reply
  3. Donna Wells

    I am not an organized religion person, my beliefs consists of a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but mostly it’s just what lives in my heart. My prayers are for the health and well being of others. Thank you for the education of your religion, I have heard the terms many times, but never knew just what it was all about. This little bit fits nicely in my heart. Thank you MQ another thought provoking essay.

    Reply
  4. Kathy Brodrick

    This was fabulous!!! Enjoyed particularly learning more than I already knew about the Jewish faith. I too agree with being born pure instead of into sin…(SO stupid.). And so much more. I pretty much feel that all faiths & religions have Good beliefs AND Idiotic beliefs. The “Bible” often makes me irate. Although there is some poetic beauty there too. I prefer to be Spiritual more so than Christian, although that is what I was brought up as. And I pray to God Goddess Universe. I have Buddist friends who believe God is within & not some Higher Power. I like that too. But I do feel Spirit within and without, esp while meditating or praying.

    Anyway I loved your writing describing the alligator too!!! Exquisite!

    Kathy

    Reply
    1. margueritequantaine Post author

      You and I are more alike than not, Kathy — and needless to say, I like that in a woman! Thank you. Sending my very warmest, most sincere wishes to you and Doris. L’chaim! To life!

      Reply
  5. Deb

    My heart goes out to you. So sorry to hear of all the losses you have suffered.
    I am not Jewish, and I do not really believe in organized religion, but the idea of being born pure does resonate with me.
    If I had to follow a religion, I believe I would definitely look into yours. I hope it brings you great comfort.
    Sending love and positive thoughts to both of you ❤

    Reply
    1. margueritequantaine Post author

      Thank you, Deb, but well, you know, I was so very fortunate to have a sister I treasured, who treasured me. We spent almost every waking minute of her last weeks together, adding to the wonderful memories we’d always shared of our lives. And the animals — truly my dear friends, providing joy and comfort and purpose. Thank you for your warm words. If you do look into Judaism (or any religion), promise me you won’t take it too seriously. And, know that it’s not religion that brings me comfort — it’s people like you.

      Reply
      1. Deb

        I agree, it is the people and dear friends in life that bring comfort. You are richly, deservedly blessed.

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