The Observer is generally atrocious at keeping track of how much time has passed since any particular event. Once it’s been a week, it might as well have been six months or two years.

But we know exactly how long it’s been since the United States invaded Iraq, and it’s not because CNN and NPR and every other national news outlet brings it up every year in the third week of March. We know because Bush pulled the trigger on the war exactly two days before we pulled a trigger of a much happier sort.

We don’t remember giving all that much thought to the war that day — we believed we’d be in and out like every other military action since Vietnam. Besides, we were getting married. We were supposed to be happily self-involved.

But as amorphous as the passage of time usually is for The Observer, we have a very sharp understanding of just how long these particular four years have been. Since the invasion and our walk down the aisle, our spouse has started and finished a second college degree. We’ve had three crops of daffodils bloom in front of the little house we bought a few months after our first anniversary. We took what we hope will not be a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy. We’ve felt the kicks and seen the ultrasound images of our first child — a boy, who until this week we had managed not to picture grown up someday, wearing an olive green uniform in a foreign country.

So we can’t help but think about the four years’ worth of happiness and adventure and fun and everyday-life mundanities that this war has snatched away from the soldiers who’ve fought it and the Iraqi civilians who’ve suffered in ways The Observer can’t even begin to imagine. And we’ll celebrate our wedding anniversary with a prayer that next year, finally, we won’t have to share it any more.

The alligators in the creeks of West Little Rock do not, thankfully, have your granny, or anyone else’s. They have, however, scared some residents of the Ranch subdivision, which backs up to the Little Maumelle, which of course feeds the Arkansas — and alligators as well.

A digital picture e-mailed to the state Game and Fish Commission last week shows a big ’gator — maybe 8 to 10 feet long — sunning on a bank of the creek, but field biologists who motored up the Little Maumelle on Sunday failed to find the big guy (or gal). He (or she) is not the only alligator in the creek, of course, no kind of rarity. It’s the people that are new to the neighborhood.

Game and Fish will try the big ones and move them farther away from people. The small ones they’ll leave where God put them.

God’s been overdoing it, however, in South Arkansas, and for the first time since the 19th century the commission is considering a fall alligator season. Rick Chastain, assistant chief of wildlife management, said Game and Fish may issue 40 permits for deep water hunting south of Millwood Lake in southwest Arkansas and the Arkansas River near Merrisach Lake in southeast Arkansas.

Hunters would be required to take a Game and Fish workshop in how to land the beasts before killing them (and what to do with them later). It’s not a matter of heading out with a bazooka; first comes the snare or harpoon. “They’ll fight real hard,” Chastain said, but only for five or six minutes. Then you’ll pull the weary guy close to your boat (for real) and dispatch him with a shotgun with No. 4 shells.

That him-her stuff: Rangers would determine the sex (and other biological information) of harvested ’gators. That requires, Chastain said, putting a finger in “places where you don’t usually want to put it.” Hunters are loath to do that, he said. Nor are they particularly interested in the result.



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