On a fifteen mile hike in the Everglades we saw over a hundred alligators.
Some were solitary.
Some were more social.
Sometimes we hit long stretches of wetlands full of wading birds like this Great Blue Heron but devoid of alligators.
Sometimes we glimpsed the top of a gator’s head and back before it disappeared underwater.
But this was our coolest alligator sighting:
I’m no alligator expert but I do know that they are one of a few reptiles that care for their young. Still, I hadn’t expected to see something so intimate, so loving.
Reptiles are often stereotyped as cold-blooded and unemotional. Years ago when I worked as a naturalist in California, I was observing a group of baby garter snakes next to a pond. They slithered all over each other. Then one baby garter snake ate another baby garter snake. It was fascinating and gruesome, but stereotypical reptile behavior.
I’ve taken a break from my writing this past week. Tomorrow we fly to New York. It’s still over a week before I return home to Alaska, but I hope to ease back into my WIP. And when I do I’m going to keep that mother/baby alligator photo in mind because it’s a great combination of taking something that we think of as dangerous and pairing it with a nurturing action.
Take a look at your characters. Are you showing their uncommon, unexpected sides? Have you complicated them to their potential?