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The outdoors are B’s second home. He can dig his hands into the dark earth and hold all sorts of hissing insects and not squirm. Rodents and other animals most people would consider undesirable do not repulse him. He doesn’t have any irrational fears of birds. In situations where others would rightly avoid a bucking horse, an angry raccoon, or a slithering octopus, he thrives. He is gentle and protective of all animals.

He is at home in nature much in the same way I am at home in a bookstore. I can make my way in any obscure bookstore and quickly ascertain its layout, and for the record, what may appear as aimless meandering is actually a deliberate walk of purposeful intention.

But I digress. The fact is, nature is second nature for him. So, when our family goes to the beach or to the park, the kids can bet on having some sort of an encounter with wildlife. He’ll hold these creatures and encourage the kids to do the same. Our children truly believe their father is a wildlife frontiersman and he doesn’t ever let them down.

This weekend, while fishing, B spotted a manatee in the water. “It’s unusual to see a young calf in salt water,” I said just as B stripped and dove into the water. He didn’t hear me. Within seconds B was swimming with the manatee. The calf gently nuzzled Blas, and in no time, they were friends. Soon after, Sophie and Ryder joined B in the water.

All the loving stopped when the police arrived. The officer ordered B out of the water and politely informed him to remain 500 feet away from his new friend, otherwise a $5000 fee would be levied.


I watched B mournfully gaze into the water until the calf was no longer in sight. I know the gentle interaction with the manatee fulfilled him in a way I don’t think I will ever truly understand, and I am glad for it.

These wildlife encounters calm his butt down, are his reset button, and a calming counterbalance to his wild streak.