Whenever I hear or read the word “luxury” out of any context I think of Monty Python’s routine, “The Four Yorkshiremen.” The word was uttered ONCE, but the WAY in which it was spoken said everything about luxury.
I live in a big valley rimmed with mountains. I got to show it off a bit today, potato farms, sprinklers, broken trucks, old, empty farmhouses and all. The barley is ripe, potatoes still blooming, blue sky waiting for monsoon clouds to come in (August is the wettest month). We were heading toward Colorado Gators to show the 8 year old among us the enormous reptiles that have been rescued by this single Colorado family who have been in the valley — with their fig tree — since the 1880s. The entire farm sits on a stream and over a 2000 foot deep thermal aquifer and part of it is a greenhouse.
I don’t know anything about them except in meeting them at Colorado Gators and chatting with a kid who’s working there. But there are signs around “This fig tree came with the family when they moved here from Kentucky in 1887.” Sometime in the ’70s they got the idea of farming tilapia, but the tilapia needed population control so they began rescuing gators and became a refuge for all kinds of reptiles that people had taken in and then were not able to keep.
My favorites are the green iguanas because for a short time I had one named Wilma. Colorado Gators also have a couple of very large red-tail boas and I also like them because, for a while, I had a little one named Ananda. I liked my “exotic” critters but finding a long-term home for them was truly a problem, especially Ananda who, though he was very tame, would ultimately grow to the size where I would become prey.
A sign outside Colorado Gators says, “This is a working farm. It smells.”
Besides all the various tortoises, snakes and amphibians, there are a lot of gators. Colorado Gators has movie star alligators living out their golden years. There are enough white alligators to make Werner Herzog rethink his whole white alligator agenda. There is an Egyptian alligator — the most fierce man-eating alligator (but, the sign says, they make extraordinarily good and caring parents) — and several Caimans. Alligators can do fine in the cold and I’ve been there to see alligators lying on the snow, basking in the Colorado winter sunshine.
I don’t know exactly if it’s luxury to have an alligator rescue within a 30 minute drive through fields and small towns, but it feels like to to me.