I hung around for a while and talked with my mom and Nannan inside while the menfolk worked on my stepdad's new airboat. Yay misogyny!
Then my mom and stepdad left and the fun began.
My Papaw, Nannan and I all piled into Paw's pickup truck, and drove down to an inlet on a mostly swampy part of Lake Okeechobee. And then we went all got on the airboat and went for a ride.
Few things are more impressive than riding through swamp in the night. Seriously, it's amazing. The only light we had besides the light on my Paw's cap was the light from the stars, which were perfectly visible. I've never seen so many stars in a sky before, and the Milky Way stretched out directly overhead like a rainbow. Around us there was nothing but swamp and dark water for as far as the eye could see. Even with the deafening roar of the airboat's propeller, it was eerily beautiful.
It was also my first experience with "frogging". If you're unfamiliar with the process, as I was, frogging is where you hunt frogs. To eat. I've eaten frog legs before (and they're delicious) but I've never been involved in the process, and I didn't particularly want to. You kill and capture frogs by basically spearing them with this long wooden stick with four razor sharp prongs at the end. It sounds like a really gruesome way to die, but the method actually kills the frogs quickly and painlessly. And then, after the frogs are stuck, you stick them in this special frog-holder-net-thing. It's crazy.
I felt even less bad for the frogs after I discovered how unintelligent they apparently are.
Picture this: You're a big, fat, green bullfrog. You're chilling out on a lily pad. Just waiting on some moths. Sitting there. Being a frog. All of the sudden, a really bright light shines on you, and you hear an extremely loud grinding noise, and a big metal thing a million times bigger than you pulls up next to you. You'd get the heck out of dodge, wouldn't you?
Apparently not. This amazed me. The frogs never ran. They never hopped away. They just sat there. And allowed themselves to become tomorrow's lunch. What?
Now, I'm not suggesting that creatures of lesser intelligence and self awareness (and common sense...) are less worthy of living, I'm just saying that at least the frogs weren't in a state of terror or panic at the time of death. They were just hanging out. "Oh, look, I almost didn't notice that large and obnoxiously loud boat less than a foot away from me! And there's a crazy mustached man with a death-stick! And he's shining a bright light on me! I wonder what that's about! Oh well, I'll just sit here and watch. Oh! Now I'm dead. Sucks."
Oh, and there were gators, lots and lots of gators. We spotted them by seeing the reflections of their eyes. My paw pulled up next to them and shined his helmet light on them so that we could watch. They're really such beautiful creatures. Other than those teeth. Most of them were really big, but we did spot a baby one that was about a foot long. My paw pulled up near it, got down from his seat (on airboats, in case you didn't know, the seats are elevated) reached over the side of the boat, and pulled the baby gator out of the water. The reptile was surprisingly calm. I named him Carlos. I got to touch him and he was really hard and scaly, but cute. Watching him swim away, I tried to imagine what his thought process was. The event probably traumatized him, and now I feel bad. Now he's going to grow up and abuse his kids.
We came back to my Nannan and Papaw's house, and my Nan and I made peanut butter fudge, which is delicious. I'm spending the night here, and going back home early tomorrow morning, because my Nan is going with my mom to court.
Oh. Yeah. I haven't mentioned this, but I guess I'll fill you guys in now. My mom is currently involved in a vicious custody battle. Her ex-husband (and my ex-stepfather), Tony, the father of three of my younger siblings, filed a random injunction against my mom accusing her of abusing my brother and sisters (not true, by the way, it's quite the opposite actually) so that he could get custody. Basically his entire motivation behind it is so that he won't have to pay child support anymore. It's a weird, messed up convoluted situation. But my mom hasn't been able to see them or talk to them in over a week, and it's breaking her heart. So that's part of why I'm here right now, to be here for her. It's a really tough time, I'm not going to lie, but what can you do but push through these sort of things, you know? I'll probably tell you guys more details on the situation tomorrow, but right now I have to write a letter telling about my mom's character and parenting ability for the courts tomorrow. Fun stuff.