The State of AffairsOpinion
OPINION — Those of you who have recently exhibited such incredibly reckless behavior as to set foot outside your homes have no doubt noticed that it’s hot out there. The impressively high temperatures of late are attributable, according to top U.S. and European climatologists, to a recurring phenomenon known as ‘summer.’ Top U.S. and European climatologists, it should be noted, rarely go outdoors, except to pick up sushi.
This summer thing happens every year about this time, and for some reason a lot of people decide it’s a good time to go poking around in the woods. The Surgeon General doesn’t, personally, recommend such foolishness, because of the heat and ticks and venomous snakes and other hazards available. But if you take a few ‘common sense’ precautions, a summer outing can be not only fun but educational, provided you’re a total moron at present.
Any mid-summer trip into the outdoors should include plenty of drinking water to prevent dehydration, a large hat to guard against sunstroke, sunscreen to protect exposed skin from harmful UV rays, and a fully equipped ambulance staffed by at least three paramedics. You will also want to carefully choose the particular part of the outdoors you will visit, as location plays a pivotal role in your overall outdoor experience. For a July outing in Texas I recommend a day trip to Montana, or maybe Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada.
Actually, anyplace up north will do, provided you avoid Washington state at all costs, unless your idea of a carefree frolic in the woods includes being eaten by wolves. Not that I, personally, have anything against wolves, as long as I can observe them from a suitable distance, such as 137.6 miles. I’m not, personally, big on accurate wolf observation, as a rule.
Neither is a certain research student, I’d bet, after what happened to her recently near the Tiffany Springs Campground in Okanogan County, Washington (County motto: We put the ‘OK’ in Okanogan!). This research student was out researching, or something, when she was set upon by a pack of wolves. Fortunately she was able to climb a tree, escaping immediate and permanent and irreparable death. Also fortunately she was able to get a signal on her cellular telephone, and called for help. Okanogan Search and Rescue personnel came to her rescue in a helicopter, which was probably a lot of fun.
Okanogan County Sheriff’s Deputies, having nothing better to do, really, said they’d send a team to investigate the area, and see if they couldn’t tell whether it was a ‘kill site or a den site, and determine if there is any threat to people in the area.’ So, in Washington state, either research students aren’t necessarily considered people (which is a difficult position to argue against, if you ask me), or else a bunch of wolves treeing someone isn’t necessarily considered a threat. Either way, I’d avoid Washington state like a gas station burrito.
Above: A wolf (K Hemphill)
But the research student wasn’t the only human person rescued from a potentially horrible and painful and gruesome wildlife-related demise of late. Fifteen-year-old Jordan Broderick was spending a relaxing day at Alexander Springs Park in balmy Florida recently with her family, soaking up some rays and floating on a raft in the lake, when she encountered a large alligator. Now, you may wonder what constitutes a ‘large’ alligator at Alexander Springs Park, as I did. My impression of a large alligator that attacks someone in Florida, while I’m in any other state, is one that is at least eight feet long. My impression of a large alligator that attacks me is one that is at least eight inches long. Personal distance from the scene of the attack, therefore, plays a major role in my assessment of the term ‘large’ when it comes to gators.
This one, though, was nine feet long, so I don’t think there’s any question that it qualified as ‘large.’ Jordan’s mother called 911, which is the recommended procedure for a Floridian whose daughter is attacked by an alligator, unless they happen to have a bazooka handy. Jordan’s mom didn’t, evidently.
Lake County Deputy Mitch Blackmon responded and told the gator, in his stern deputy voice, to go away, but it didn’t. Which is not surprising, since alligators are notorious for their rebellious and blasé attitude toward authority figures. So Deputy Mitch shot the gator with his bazooka.
Above: A bazooka
Just kidding. He shot it with his AR-15, killing it. If I was Mitch I’d carry a bazooka in my cruiser, but there you go.
So this story has a happy ending (except for the gator), despite the fact Mitch didn’t get to ride in a helicopter, but it also offers a few lessons. No one, under any circumstances, should ever go outside in Florida, because of the risk of deputies with bazookas. You should never float on a raft anywhere in Florida, especially if you’re a fifteen-year-old girl. And finally, if you live in Florida you should move immediately. To anywhere.
Well, anywhere except Washington state . . .