By Charles Towne
One thing that I have learned over the years as a naturalist and wildlife photographer is that nothing surprises me anymore. Animals and people alike always have one thing in common, they are unpredictable. About the time that you think you have seen it all, there in front of you is a pink polka dotted whatsit reading Shakespeare!
Once while paddling a canoe on the Wekiva River I drifted around a bend and surprised a daydreaming bear as he sat drowsily musing on the riverbank with his eyes closed. The bear was totally oblivious to my presence so I foolishly decided to see how close I could get. I stopped paddling and just drifted.
Soon I was no more than about ten or fifteen feet from Blackie and it was about that time that he opened his eyes and saw me. I have never seen a more surprised expression on an animal’s face. So help me his eyes grew real big, he jerked upright, and his mouth snapped open. It looked like he was about to say something.
Now I thought I had seen some fast bears in my life as a wildlife photographer. Believe it when I say they can move, but that bear was so surprised he gave new meaning to fast. As he ran he was getting lighter with each bound due to the stuffing being scared out of him if you get my meaning, but he had another surprise in store for me.
As he ran he glanced over his shoulder to see if I was following him and ran full tilt into a small longleaf pine tree about six inches in diameter.
That tree shook with the impact and the bear was knocked backward onto his broad bear bottom. He shook his head and sat there somewhat befuddled for a moment staring at the tree and then wandered off without another glance in my direction. It was very obvious that his tree encounter had made him forget all about me. This, then, is the beautiful Wekiva river where a surprise awaits you around every bend.
This is your river, enjoy it.
Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.