Of All Things
April 18, 2018
by James Smart
News of cats, alligators and Paul Revere
Sometimes I search the latest news for a column topic. I considered writing about Paul Revere today, since the 18th of April in 1775 was the date of his famous ride, but Longfellow already covered that thoroughly, if you’re into poetry.
Trolling through minor news reports, I came upon the saga of a cat that spent more than three days in a tree in Cheshire, England. The last Cheshire cat I read about was the one Alice encountered in Wonderland a while back.
I checked to see if this critter could disappear and leave only its smile behind, but the current Cheshire cat stayed visible, which worried the folks in the neighborhood. After the cat spent a couple of days without food or water, in what was described as very high up in a very tall tree, the neighbors summoned the Royal SPCA, who sent a person with the title of Animal Collection Officer.
The officer summoned a tree trimmer, who decided that the problem called for more than trimming. A tree surgeon was rushed to the scene. He had the proper equipment to climb the tree, and did so until he could nearly reach the cat. At this point, the cat leaped across to another tree nearby, quickly descended, and ran away.
This situation was well reported both in Great Britain and the United States. I guess there was nothing interesting happening in Iran.
Of equal import was news coverage of an incident in Fripp Island, South Carolina, where authorities are searching for the miscreants who engaged in the unlawful act of throwing carrots at an alligator.
The Fripp Island Resort Activity Center posted photos on Facebook of an 11-foot alligator with a carrot stuck in the side of its face, surely a disturbing sight for all lovers of alligators.
Local officials have descriptions of the tourists who bombarded the alligator. If apprehended, reports say that they face fines of up to $200 per carrot thrown for harassing the alligator. (Does Pennsylvania have any statutes to cover this?)
A woman described as a Fripp Island naturalist (probably the American equivalent of Animal Collection Officer) told the newspapers that the alligator “slunk back into the water.” Slinking would seem like an acceptable reaction to the situation.
But, she warned, there was a danger that the incident would make the alligator begin to see humans as a source of food. I’m sure the naturalist knows more about alligator reasoning than I do, but it seems to me that the situation would more likely just turn the gator against vegetables.
Maybe I should have stuck to Paul Revere’s ride, although that’s old news. In case you haven’t heard, he rowed across the Charles River from Boston that night, under the noses of British sentries aboard HMS Somerset, and watched until Robert Newman, sexton of the North Church, signaled him from the steeple by lantern that British troops were on the move to seize an arsenal of colonist’s weapons.
Revere and a couple of other fellows rode around, warning colonists that troops were coming. Longfellow didn’t write poems about the other guys. Paul Revere’s midnight ride, hollering “The regulars are out!” and not “The British are coming!” no matter what anybody tells you, ended when some British officers caught him. They took his horse and let him finish his ride on foot.
The first battle of the Revolutionary War was fought the next day. That has also been thoroughly covered elsewhere.
James Smart's Philadelphia