5/7/17: Big Changes; New Offerings

What a busy, productive winter I’ve had! The façade and interior of our little brick farmhouse in Saginaw have been renovated and painted and I’ve done lots of work at Sunnybank House, too. 

But the best part of the last 6 months is: I’ve finished a new (my fourth) CD, consisting of of eleven songs recorded in my basement studio over 7 months or so. It’s called: There’s Something in a Name...offered, as usual, to help me earn funds for the Secret Garden’s maintenance, which is considerable. This offering includes old pop favorites, like ‘Georgia on my Mind,’ ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘Vincent,’ as well as music I have written for poetry I love, that have enticing names- for example Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Annabel Lee,’ an eerie account of his beautiful bride’s fate...and his. 

As usual, I sing while accompanying myself on my synthesizer. 

And there are other new things to know; from now on the Secret Garden may be open only at odd times- for a couple of hours, or for a day or two, now and then. Check the sign out front. Or, I might possibly be open for larger chunks of time- perhaps for days, if I’m working outside. 

I’ve loved opening it to visitors for 26 years, but must stop doing weddings or other events in the secret garden. These days I want to focus much more on my family. 

I’ll likely be biking, swimming, walking, enjoying my friends, doing cookouts, and a ton of other fun stuff. And I like to grab power naps during the afternoons... 

I’ve certainly enjoyed hosting the countless happy functions held at Sunnybank over the past quarter century. It’s been a pleasure. 

If you have a group that wishes a tour of the secret garden and Sunnybank House, please email me at blairdee@gmail.com. If  I have no other plans, arrangements will cheerfully be made. 

Feel free to email me should you have any questions, dear readers. 

One final note: my second book will be out by midsummer; I’ll make a more formal announcement soon. It’s about our labradoodle, Bryn, and features dozens of tales of other fascinating, intriguing animals I’ve met over the years. I think you’ll close this book with a smile... 

My CD and book would make great gifts, anytime. 

And there’s this: I include below a recent account of a South Carolina family’s alligator experience that you may not have read about. In mid-April I wrote about an experience my sister had with these scary, fascinating creatures in Naples. Then I saw this article a few days later... 

I wonder what the beast was thinking. The photos are astounding!

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Alligator climbs to a second-story Mount Pleasant porch, through a screen door and then refuses to leave
from The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)
By Bo Petersen / Photos by Steve Polston

 

Susie Polston had fallen asleep watching "Friends" on television. She woke in the late night to a loud intruder on the porch outside her Mount Pleasant home. 

“Somebody’s trying to break into the house,” she told her family. They secluded themselves in the master bedroom and called 911. But then the racket quit. Ben Polston, 16, her son, snuck a look and started yelling, “Oh my God, I found it! I found it!” 

He’d found it all right. In the early hours of Easter, a nearly 10-foot alligator had clambered up the back stairwell to the second story porch of their home, crunched through the aluminum screen door and made itself at home between the sofa and a swinging bench. It lay there like a plastic prank, but when they rapped on the window glass, it lifted its head

“It was just surreal. It was so bizarre,” Susie Polston said. 

And the monstrous critter wouldn't budge, even though a nuisance removal agent spent two hours trying to coax it out far enough from the porch to snare it safely. 

“A 5-footer, we could have put a dog stick on it and dragged it out,” said agent Ronnie Russell, of Gator Getter Consultants. “One that large, he likes to grab onto things (to fight.)” As Russell worked outside, the family inside dragged over household furniture to barricade the door. 

“There was not a whole lot of room up there (on the porch),” Russell said. 

Alligators wandering up to homes isn’t unusual in the Lowcountry, with its abundance of marsh. Climbing a story-high staircase is. But it’s spring, the time of year male gators roam for mates. 

The prehistoric-age creatures like to take the direct route from waterhole to waterhole and will thrash their way through obstacles if they can. In February, a gator wandered up to a home off Cypress Gardens Road near the Cooper River and appeared to climb the door to ring the bell as it tried to get past. 

Unlike the crocodiles seen on television, alligators are not aggressive by nature. But they eat dogs and will react if they feel threatened, including a bluff “false charge” showing their teeth. They can move swifter than their bulk suggests.

The guiding rule for the critters is to let them be. If there’s room and time, they will move on, eventually. But the S.C. Department of Natural Resources issues nuisance removal licenses for problem situations, keeps a calling list of licensed agents and has an emergency number, 1-800-922-5431. 

The Polstons’ home sits by a pond on the 18th hole at the Rivertowne Country Club off the Wando River, separated by fencing. In seven years they had not seen an alligator get past the fencing. But “that’s what alligators do, they follow that fencing until they can get around it or through,” Russell said. 

After two hours of getting nowhere, Russell consulted with the Polstons. State law requires a nuisance-trapped alligator to be killed. Agents usually remove it from the premises first. The family didn’t want to see it killed. But the other choice was to wait it out, maybe for days. The animal was euthanized. 

Susie Polston is still uneasy about it all. The family has a more secure porch door now, and will get a gate for the stairwell landing. But they're not turning tail, at least so long as it doesn’t happen again, she said. 

“We love it here. It’s beautiful,” she said. “We think this was rare. We hope it was rare.”


 

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