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sinkhole in a protected nature reserve on the outskirts of the city. A number of alligators sunning themselves beside the bank of a muddy stream regarded us disinterestedly, if at all.

“Indeed,” my host replied. “One throws an avocado pit into the back yard, and, soon, an avocado plant appears.”

“Gainesville’s fertile soil transports me to the pages of C.S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew,” I explained. “The principal characters in this novel—-the sixth of Lewis’ famous fantasy septology—-are present at the creation or Narnia, Lewis’ proto-Christian wonderland. During this genesis sequence, one these characters throws an iron bar upon the ground. The ground proves so fruitful that an iron tree springs from the bountiful earth.”

“Our compost pile is, in itself, an ongoing experiment in the creation of life,” my host agreed. “One cannot predict what volunteers will spring from the organic refuse we collect behind our home. Green peppers, tomatoes, a orange or a coconut—-any flora may rear its vegetative head at any time.”

“Life, if anything, is hardy,” I ventured. I gesticulated wildly at the alligators which, should we approach in a threatening fashion, would devour us like the irresponsible host of a popular nature program. “Consider these alligators! These alligators first tread the earth in the Mesozoic Era. When they first appeared, homo sapiens was little more than a possible outcome of natural selection. Alligators existed long before the invention of writing, before the religious trials and tribulations of Jesus Christ, Muhammad, and Buddha, before the fall of Rome, before the so-called ‘Dark Ages,’ before Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, before Galileo embraced heliocentric, Copernican cosmology, before Marx grafted dialectical materialism to economics to invent socialism, before the cotton gin, before the War Between the States, before World War I, before the Jazz Age, before World War II, before the Korean War, before the Vietnam War, before Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II, before the telephone, before the fax machine, before the Internet, before M*A*S*H*, before the Cosby Show, before Family Ties, before Seinfeld, before Friends, and before Lost.” I paused to catch my breath. “At humanity’s pathetic swipes at the sublime—-feeble developments like the Egyptian Pyramids or Tina Fey’s 30 Rock—-the alligator only yawns.”

“Indeed,” my host replied. He pointed to an alligator lurking nearby. As if on cue, the alligator yawned.

“Unbelievable!” I exclaimed. For a moment, I was transfixed by the transcendent power of nature. Then, a thought distracted me from my reverie. I cleared my throat and looked my host squarely in the face.

“I forgot to ask you,” I declared. “Did you prefer 30 Rock to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip before the latter’s cancellation?”