Tricolor heron with chicks.
My mom always encouraged exploration. Whether living abroad or even climbing trees in the backyard, my mom cautiously embraced my curiosity. Well, more appropriately, I’d say she accepted it. My hands-on approach to the outdoors was often a topic of conversation (heated debate) at the dinner table. More than a few times I ran the risk of having my camera confiscated, as it was viewed as the end to my reckless means. As budding photographer, it proved exceedingly difficult to hide the evidence of my close encounters. So, before every family viewing, I preemptively apologized, officially pardoning myself for any worrisome images.
The same technique endures to this day. From Ecuador I called during the coup d'état to forewarn her of the tear gas and Molotov cocktail photos that would soon be posted on the internet. In Honduras I made sure to write immediately after I rappelled down a waterfall too tall for my rope, in attempts of capturing the sunrise through a wall of water. Each time she sighed, grew a few gray hairs, and then handed the phone over to my dad so he could yell at me. I’m sure though, she was smiling to herself.
It has always been and will always be easier to ask for forgiveness before permission; but she wouldn’t be my mom if she willingly let me throw myself to the wolves, or gators in my case. So this is a thank you to my mom, Sarah Stone, a wonderful woman who would disapprove when appropriate, but always welcome me home with loving arms when I arrived back in one piece.
I love you mom!
Off Loop Road, gators are often fed by fishermen which makes them very people-friendly.
Feeding gators, however, is a terrible idea and often makes them unpredictable and
dangerous. I snapped this photo just before he turned back towards me and started hissing.