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July 7, 2014 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Not Fishing for Compliments.

The old man was a real possibility. Fishing happily. Alone.

It was easier if they were alone. Those were the ones always willing to chat – and then quick to offer to share without being asked.

boy in doorway.Chaplin's "The Kid" 1921 vintage film/

Taking it all in. Takes skill to know when the timing is right. (

Sheldon shuffled nervously. He’d been there a while.

Waiting. Quietly hoping.

Never good to appear too eager. Scared folks.

Best to stand around on the fringe of the activity.

He hoped they thought he was with some family, but had simply wandered off.

He just looked sad if they asked.

Pitiful. Lost.


VIntage film.1921."The Kid"/Coogan/US

Please, mister. Can’t even spare a minnow? (US.PD/

Important to keep that family image so he could walk away later and they would leave him alone.

That’s the way he wanted it.

He was resourceful. Able to make it on his own.

He didn’t want or need a keeper.

Overlooked. Hiding in plain sight. His choice.

So this old man fiddling with that small fish he caught?  Please don’t toss it back.

It was big enough. Sheldon would gladly take it.

Time to amble up with a smile and ask for a donation.

He rushed forward as the old man raised his arm with the just-right-size-for-lunch fish taking aim at the lake.

Oh, hurry. Must get old guy’s attention before too late.

Grab his hand? Yes! Oh, a bit too roughly.

“Wait, Mister. Uh, thanks for the fish.

I didn’t mean to scare you. Just a scratch, right?

You planning to stick around and maybe catch some more? Mind if I watch – maybe offer advice or something?

Don’t rush off. You might trip. Oh, I was afraid of that. You OK?

Old man and boy in vintage film. 1921."My Boy". Pretty Clever Films/ US PD:pub. date/

Oh, they’ll be back to pick me up. Don’t worry. But say, you got any fried chicken? I love chicken. (

Wait, lady, it was an accident. I didn’t shove him.

His back pocket must have snagged on my tooth when we bumped into each other. Just playin’.

That’s probably nuthin’ but fish blood.

He’s been catching fish, you know.

Wait. No need for all that yelling and frantic scrambling.

Seriously? I’m standing here grinning.

Like I couldn’t jump up on that picnic table, too, ifn I wanted to.

Snooty people. Won’t stay where I’m not wanted.”

vintage film.Child with woman.1922"Trouble".First National films.Coogan/

You got pretty eyes, lady. What’s in that cooler of yours? Any chicken? Chicken’s tasty. Not grilled yet? No problem. Cooler would be lighter for a pretty lady like you to carry back to the car if it was empty…(1922/

With a slight shoulder shrug and dismissive flip of his tail, Sheldon slipped back to his favorite spot. Ready for a nap and a little peace.

He did hope all that screaming would calm down shortly.

If they kept yellin’, it would bring the park rangers’ scowls, ropes, and worrisome comments about how he’d gotten too big for his scales.

Last time they said disruptive juveniles wouldn’t be tolerated.

Well, he might only be eight foot long, but just wait and see how things snapped if those state park guys did show up.

Besides what was all the ruckus about? Not like he was unique. There were others, too.

Lots of talk about how the younger generation wasn’t moving out on their own these days. Opting for comfortable surroundings instead.

Sheldon felt right trendy….although talk of shoes and belts continued to give him nightmares.

Gator goin' (Image: TX PArks and Wildlife Dept.)

Gator best be goin’ (Image: TX Parks and Wildlife Dept.)

Hot time in the old park tonight.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.

Read more?

Don't be chicken. Come visit Sheldon Lake Park. We promise you don't have to croak. Don't be chicken and don't bring chicken either. (Image: Tx Parks and Wildlife Dept.)

Come visit Sheldon Lake Park. Promise you don’t have to croak. Don’t be chicken. Chicken not a smart lifestyle choice around here. (Image: Tx Parks and Wildlife Dept.)





  1. Paul / Jul 7 2014 1:56 pm

    Yum, yum, yum. Any ketchup? It goes well with humans.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 7 2014 2:33 pm

      They come with red stuff – but never enough salt. Abandoned picnic baskets seem to have plenty of condiments available. Thanks for chomping a comment


  2. bulldog / Jul 7 2014 2:32 pm

    Love the story … give me the fish or I’ll bite your bum….


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 7 2014 2:54 pm

      Apparently this gator had the routine down. (Gators – they are always smiling and chuckling. Smarty pants!) Thanks for biting off a comment to leave


  3. katecrimmins / Jul 7 2014 3:18 pm

    He should have gone for the humans — no scales or fur or feathers. Just soft white meat. Yum!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 7 2014 3:43 pm

      Old ones maybe tough? He was pulling a fast one. Park rangers take a dim view of gators charging the fishermen. But seriously, a park bench wouldn’t be high enough for me to jump up on. Lazy gator apparently…or picky eater? Thanks for dashing over


      • katecrimmins / Jul 7 2014 3:53 pm

        You seem to have a lot of these gators running around down there.


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 7 2014 3:59 pm

          It’s coastal – wetlands. They were here first. Almost got wiped out from hunting, but baaaaaack. (Well, not that one. Disruptive aggressive gators may get a warning, but can get eviction papers from parks like this one. They are trying to teach kids how to fish and encourage that hobby….gator watching should be done elsewhere like at Brazos Bend Park)


          • katecrimmins / Jul 7 2014 5:23 pm

            Do people get killed by gators or are they more mild nippers there. We don’t have them so of course they terrify me.


          • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 7 2014 6:38 pm

            Actually although the gators seem to wander around a lot I’ve never heard of anyone in this area getting bitten until this one. (Spring is when they are really active)
            Almost every week TV news shows some gator getting hauled off a porch or out of a yard or something, but they are big and most people call for help. There were those 3 teenage boys who watched too much reality TV and tried to straddle and capture one medium size one on their own(one of the group took video)…no one hurt, but they soon realized it’s not as easy as it looks. Then there’s the drunks that throw chicken parts at them just for fun. Wildlife dept discourages that. But I always casually warn newcomers to be careful about letting their dogs jump into bayous or lakes for a swim. Last summer some new guy across the lake was all outraged because a gator chased his frantically swimming little poodle. Demanding all gators be moved or killed. People finally told him it would be wise to keep his dog up. He moved and wanted a water view – it comes with the inhabitants. My cousin has gators sunning on her dock in the late sometimes – but they’ve never come up in the yard where the dog was chained outside sometimes. (I was a bit uneasy about putting that dog out there – but they did it that way for over 10 years)


  4. robstroud / Jul 7 2014 4:17 pm

    Great story. Carried me away from my DMin studies for a few delightful moments.


  5. PiedType / Jul 7 2014 6:36 pm

    Unfortunate for all concerned.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 7 2014 6:58 pm

      Pretty scary situation getting chased by a gator. Apparently that one was a known troublemaker and didn’t take the hint earlier. Worlds collided. Thanks for snapping to the situation


  6. EllaDee / Jul 8 2014 2:29 am

    I like your version better than the news story. I sent up a request… Dear Universe, Please let PMOTH write the scripts. Kind regards, EllaDee 🙂


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 8 2014 1:32 pm

      A picnic table wouldn’t have been up high enough for me! Gators get really focused and move so fast. But they have those smiling faces…if only the teeth weren’t so intimidating….perhaps a trip to the dentist for cosmetic modifications? (hmmmm, wonder….) You have to feel a little sorry for the gator even if he’s a bully (“he’s misunderstood!” tears – oh, ok those are crocodile tears…what else?), but apparently he had been warned before and didn’t take the hint.
      Thanks for the kind words and for sloshing over to chat


  7. aFrankAngle / Jul 8 2014 12:30 pm

    The belts obviously make him gag.


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