Do you have Dangerous Friends?

Watch me paint Gator and Snake in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

Alligators live in the neighborhood lagoon behind our house. From time to time, the housing association hires someone to remove them, but they always come back. A few days ago I stood on my patio and took this picture of an unlikely pair of friends. Don’t worry, I didn’t get too close, and the gator was occupied, as you can see.

This sage advice isn’t very useful for the turtle, who doesn’t seem to be aware of his new friend coming up behind him.

Sometimes we’re just living our lives, going about our business, completely unaware of the dangers around us.

He looks friendly enough. See, he’s even smiling! Of course that could be in anticipation of devouring his new best buddy. I didn’t stick around to see how this situation was resolved. 😲

And just now I took this video from my patio. I was about to hit the publish button on this blog post when I decided to look out… and there he was! So, I’m adding this video footage of my morning friend. Notice the steamy fog rolling off the lagoon? After a heavy rain that has left everything still quite soggy, it’s going to be a hot one.

Do YOU have dangerous friends? Many of us have a hard time believing that someone we know can be abusive, but chances are, someone we encounter will lie to us, be unfair to us, or much worse. On the path to enlightenment (the journey to becoming our best self, and making a difference in the lives of others) we must be responsible in the company we keep. Dangerous friends can devour us, and keep us from the destiny we were meant to be a part of. We can’t serve others when we are served up as dinner!

Part of being a good steward of our gifts, talents, and abilities to contribute to a better world is to hold ourselves accountable in the relationships we have. We must be aware of the gators creeping up behind us. Though they may be smiling, they are not acting in our best interest, but are destroying us for their own benefit. Their actions may seem relatively harmless, but predators are certainly dangerous.

Perhaps a mild form of passive aggressive behavior is directed at us, an unkind word, a rude facial expression that is unintentionally or deliberately insulting, or simply a lack of support for the things that matter to us; and it seems like an overreaction to perceive these typical unpleasant or hurtful social exchanges as “dangerous”. But when our spirits are targeted bit by bit, the erosion is felt over time. Destroying our spirit can take months or years, but one day it may finally become obvious that a certain person or an overall toxic environment was dangerous.

Some gators may take their time, enjoying the hunt. Others may prey upon us suddenly, attempting to destroy us with a single coercion. The “gator” may be a government, an institution, an employer, or a mob. The gator may be your own family or friends. Anyone who doesn’t respect your freedom to make your own choices is potentially a dangerous friend.

Do you have dangerous friends? Look behind you before it’s too late. Dangerous friends may smile and tell us that their tyranny is for our own good, but we must never feed the gators. Staying strong for others means that we must protect ourselves. If we allow ourselves to be destroyed, who will help those who need us? We are all needed. YOU are needed.

Watch Trapper John catch a gator! I was filming the whole thing.

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“Gator and Snake”

Watch Natalie paint this art, and all 50 oil paintings in this collection (menu below)

“We get gators in the lagoon behind our house. Trapper John came out and removed a big alligator using a pole, his bare hands, and duct tape. I watched the adventure from inside the house, through the glass patio doors. When the gator was safely bound and loaded onto the back of his truck, I went outside and asked if it was OK to take pictures. Trapper John moved the gator so that I could get a good shot. The gator’s tail felt like an underinflated tire- rubbery, squishy, and oddly soft.

The police officer on the scene said- after I touched the gator- that he was surprised the alligator was being so docile. The officer was amused by my photo shoot. He said, “Welcome to Georgia.”

Besides gators, we also have snakes. There was a small one inside our house, which gave me a phobia of lying on the floor. No more yoga for me! There was a large one outside our house, which gave me a phobia of mowing the lawn. Now I wear boots or ask my husband to do it. One day I was filming a cute little toad and my husband pranked me by pretending to see a snake. He laughed about that for entirely too long. Well, a few weeks later, he came in from mowing with a sheepish look on his face. He thought I’d seen him jump a mile when he saw a snake in the grass. No, I’d missed that, but I can imagine it and it’s a safe bet that I’ll have another opportunity to see it.”

Gator and Snake oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas

List of Oil Paintings in this Collection, linking to their pages here on the site, and also citing physical pages in the hardcover book:

  1. City of Savannah
    1.1 “City of Savannah” page 6-7
    1.2 “Natalie at the Fountain” page 8-11
    1.3 “House in Savannah” page 12-13
    1.4 “Guardian Lion” page 14-15
    1.5 “Autumn Angel” page 16-17
    1.6 “Steamship Savannah” page 18-19
    1.7 “Boiled Peanuts for Sale” page 20-21
    1.8 “Bulldog” page 22-23
    1.9 “Serenity Piano” page 24-25
    1.10 “Painting Colors” page 26-27
  2. Tybee Island
    2.1 “I Love Life” page 30-31
    2.2 “Living Sand Dollar” page 32-33
    2.3 “Matthew the Sea Turtle” page 34-35
    2.4 “Fungie the Dolphin” page36-37
    2.5 “Angel Releasing Dove” page 38-39
    2.6 “Flag on Tybee Island” page 40-41
    2.7 “My Kids at the Beach” page 42-43
    2.8 “Lighthouse near Tybee Island” page 44-45
  3. Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians
    3.1 “Gator and Snake” page 48-49
    3.2 “Tree Frog” page 50-51
    3.3 “Lizard” page 52-53
    3.4 “Blue Heron” page 54-55
    3.5 “Hummingbird” page 56-57
    3.6 “Painted Bunting” page 58-59
  4. Flowers and Trees
    4.1 “Pink Flower” page 62-63
    4.2 “Porch Flowers” page 64-65
    4.3 “Clover” page 66-67
    4.4 “Butterfly Tree Flowers” page 68-69
    4.5 “Savannah Tree” page 70-71
    4.6 “Dancer in a Floral Forest” page 72-73
    4.7 “Come to the Garden” page 74-77
    4.8 “Cherokee Rose” page 78-79
  5. Faith and Food
    5.1 “Floral Cross” page 82-83
    5.2 “Lenten Flower” page 84-85
    5.3 “Celtic Cross” page 86-87
    5.4 “Mary of God’s Favor” page 88-89
    5.5 “Lion and the Lamb” page 90-91
    5.6 “Breakfast with Friends” page 92-93
    5.7 “Peaches in a Bowl” page 94-95
    5.8 “Peach Cookies” page 96-97
    5.9 “Peach Pie” page 98-99
  6. Seasons and Weather
    6.1 “Pumpkins and Mums” page 102-103
    6.2 “Autumn Cottage” page 104-105
    6.3 “Spring Lambs” page 106-107
    6.4 “Peach Tree Hurricane” page 108-109
    6.5 “Eye of the Storm” page 110-111
    6.6 “God’s Promise” page 112-113
    6.7 “We Gather Together” page 114-115
    6.8 “Savannah Snow” page 116-117
    6.9 “I Believe in Santa” page 118-119