Never Smile at a Crocodile

Never smile at a crocodile
No, you can’t get friendly with a crocodile
Don’t be taken in by his welcome grin
He’s imagining how well you’d fit within his skin ~ Rolf Harris

In November, we took a short trip to Louisiana and spent some time on the bayou. Although I don’t consider myself much of a Swamp Person, unlike Heidi who has a peculiar affinity for swamps, I found the Louisiana bayou to be surprisingly beautiful.

We took a three hour tour. It was just like The Minnow except there were just the four of us, plus Chris, our captain, and we didn’t get lost, and we were in an airboat on the swamp going 50 mph. It was a grand adventure!

We shot across the marsh and the trees and the lily pads as seamlessly as we did the water. The herons and egrets were beautiful.The nurtia, not so much.

To bring attention to South Louisiana’s endangered wetlands, designer Cree McCree held a fashion show at House of Yes in Williamsburg starring Righteous Fur pelts made from nutria — the huge rodent that has a serious appetite for swamp plants and is endangering the nation’s ecosystem….The crowd was split on the huge orange, crescent-shaped nutria teeth that dangled from some of the hems… ~New York Fashion

If you know southern swamps, you probably know about nurtrias. This was my first encounter and it was an up close and muddy one. I’m no fashionista, but really, would you want to wear this guy’s pelt and teeth? He was kind of a cross between the biggest, ugliest rat and a beaver with a sorry excuse for a tail. Chris was a real hands on type of guy.

Our furry friend shared a good deal of his mud with me. As did the our next guests. Chris just kept offering me his pant leg to use as a towel. Funny. Have you noticed that the one with the camera is always the only one who gets dirty. By the time the trip was over, I looked like I’d done some bog hopping. After the nutria encounter, we headed back into private waters.

Long, long ago, I used to have a pretty extensive collection of 33 vinyls. When I was little, they were mostly Disney fairytale/musicals, complete with illustrations. I still know all of the songs from Babes in Toyland and Cinderella and Peter Pan. Every since going to Louisiana, I’ve thought often about Peter Pan. Not Peter Pan himself so much as Captain Hook. Not really Captain Hook so much as the crocodile that had designs on him. Rolf Harris has taken Never Smile at a Crocodile from Peter Pan and had some fun with it.


According to Animal Planet all alligators are crocodiles but not all crocodiles are alligators.

This is an alligator. His inspired name is Big Al. He’s 13 feet long, which is something of a dinosaur. He’s entirely unperturbed by visitors.

His neighbor, Bella, was lying in wait for us. She was smaller, 11 feet, which, believe me, feels plenty big when she decides to climb into your little wooden boat. She was waiting for her coot. The fact that she knew the routine, didn’t mean she was tame.

At this point my foot was about a foot from her nose. Chris shot a coot the day before. I was pretty pleased. I’m a tough enough old bird that if there hadn’t been a coot, I’m not sure she wouldn’t have been content with something fresher.

I was already muddy from the nutria and I wasn’t keen on being dinner. These photos aren’t zoomed which is why you can see her tonsils but not her webbed feet.

I’m not sure how many crocodiles I may have smiled at in zoos. I now know that if an alligator is smiling back at me on the bayou, it may have dinner on its mind.

Never smile at a crocodile
Never dip your hat and stop to talk awhile
Never run, walk away, say good-night, not good-day
Clear the aisle but never smile at Mister Crocodile ~ Rolf Harris

If only I’d gone to the Louisiana bayou before I started gate guarding, it would have changed everything.

If we still don’t have a job tomorrow, I’ll tell you why.


Having had some close encounters with alligators on the Louisiana bayou in November, I was hoping to see some more in Texas.

I did, I think. It was rainy and cold and Stewart, one of the owners of On the Bayou RV Park said that the gators were mudding-in and we probably wouldn’t see any unless it got in the 70’s, which it didn’t the entire week. After 14 months of record heat, it never got over 58.

I took this picture from the window. I’m 83% sure it’s an alligator and not a log. It was kind of a Loch Ness moment so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

This wasn’t a Linda Ronstadt bayou. There was nothing blue about it!  It was more of Hank Williams bayou (although technically, he was writing about Louisiana, not Texas).

Good-bye Joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh
Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou
My Yvonne, the sweetest one, me oh my oh
Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

I didn’t have a pirogue, although the neighbors did,  but I did have a pole. I asked what was biting. Stewart said, Well, mostly just catfish because the wind’s out of the north. When the wind is out of the south you can catch saltwater fish. How do you suppose that works? Does the wind just blow them in from the ocean? Fascinating!

Thibodeaux, Fontainenot, the place is buzzin’
Kinfolk come to see Yvonne by the dozen
Dress in style and go hog wild, me oh my oh
Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

It was buzzin’ all right. The mosquitoes were so thick, they turned my black jeans brown. I bought night-crawlers to fish for the non-saltwater catfish. Dead shrimp work better I’m told, but they were all sold out of dead shrimp at the gas/bait/movies/glittering t-shirt store.

I briefly considered buying frozen shrimp and microwaving them (making them doubly dead) but I figured I might eat those and there was little temptation with living worms. Apparently they presented little temptation to the catfish, too. I think I had a couple of bites (on the pole that I wasn’t holding) and a couple of dozen on me before the mosquitoes drove me inside and the thunderstorms kept me there.

Settle down, far from town, get me a pirogue
And I’ll catch all the fish in the bayou
Swap my mon to buy Yvonne what she need-o
Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

We had big enough fun, anyway!

The herons and egrets were beautiful. The ducks were odd as ducks tend to be.

Just before we left yesterday, the flapping of great pink wings announced the presence of a pink flamingo, which wasn’t really a pink flamingo.

It was, from what I’ve read, a roseate spoonbill having great fun on the bayou!

We’ve left the Texas bayou and headed for Houston without having any Jambalaya, but I’m leaving you with some. There’s a great shot of a true pirogue and a pole with alligators in the bottom on this video!