Home Commentary Storytellin’ and Swimmin’ Armadillos

Storytellin’ and Swimmin’ Armadillos

I’m often asked how I write good stories. I know this, you can’t tell a good story without livin’ it first. In the South, we’re known to live a life worthy of beer-holdin’ and questionable behavior. That’s the beginning of the reason Southerners make good storytellers. But the second truth is that you must live your life with your eyes and ears wide open. Pay attention. 


If you ever hear a Southerner say “watchis,” good story makin’ is about to commence. It may not be legal or moral, but I’d prepare your pen and paper and turn on your recording devices. 

One case in point is Turtle Speed McQueen who got the wild notion to crawl away from the law in the most unlikely of getaway vehicles…a commercial-grade forklift. How are you gonna just get in a forklift and reconcile the right and left brain on stealing that sucker? 

“Slow Speed Chase of a Sunshine Rental Down the Three-Mile,” didn’t register on my top 100 stories of the Pensacola year, but here we are.

Bless it.

Another good story may be one you haven’t heard about. You may have heard the phrase, “when pigs fly,” but have you heard, “when armadillos swim”? While you’re wading around waiting on the Blue Angels, keep a spotter on the tootsies. My new friends Jessica and Walt Noe were minding their beeswax, swimming in the sound, when something quite unusual came bubbling by…an armadillo!

True story. Jessica had to look it up, as did I, and here’s what Google tells us, “Armadillos have very heavy shells and instantly sink in water. An armadillo can hold its breath for up to six whole minutes while it walks right across the bottoms of streams, rivers, lakes, or ponds! However, armadillos can also float and swim in water.” If they are preparing for water, they will inflate their lungs with air to provide buoyancy to float!

Who knew? Honey, I did not.

If you want to see more interesting photography and local snorkeling and wildlife excursions, follow them on Facebook here: Jessica N Walt Noe.

So, add swimming armadillos to the list of things we must worry about, and don’t steal forklifts from the beach. They make terrible getaway cars but are storyworthy for sure. 

Perhaps the intolerable heat and Florida conditions breed the “live for today,” mentality that contributes to knee-jerk human decisions and the unpredictable animal ones. I can tell you this, if an armadillo came swimming by me in the sound, I might steal a forklift, too.  But for the record, neither of the two stories mentioned above are related. 

My challenge to you this week is to live a story-worthy life. It doesn’t mean you have to swim with armadillos or break the law. But as far as we know, we get one shot at this life. In the time we have, we should write the best story we can pen. 

You can live a story-worthy life without ever leaving your neighborhood or spending one penny in the way you think of others and love them well. I saw a quote recently that said something like, “You haven’t yet met all the people you will love or the ones that will love you back.”

And if you’re up for adventuring, be brave and go! Take in every bit of what our area has to offer and if you can afford the time and money, stretch your wings a little further and see every bit of the world you can. 

Find a quiet little place and write the outline of your life’s story. How do you want it to read and what life have you not yet lived? Make a list of the ways you can leave your mark by loving better and enriching your life and the lives of others.

Most of all…simply open your eyes and look around. There’s a story right in front of you waiting to be told. 

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Dana is an Arkansas native and a seasonal resident of the Gulf Coast since childhood. She was a Pensacola resident for 13 years, before moving to Gulf Breeze. Dana attributes her Mayberry-esque childhood in Warren, Arkansas, as enormously influential in honing her definitely Southern style of storytelling. She earned a degree in Journalism, Advertising/Public Relations from the University of Arkansas (Woo Pig Sooie!). In addition to writing, she loves photography, art, adventures in the great outdoors, and spending time with her three children.