I sat there reading a few days ago, my mind on my book, not on the possibility of an encounter with Sir Hiss. In fact I'd forgotten all about him. My chair was nestled into the corner, a window on my left, a wall on my right. Suddenly something black flicked by from behind me, on the ground, not on the chair. Had it been on the chair I'd be writing this from my hospital bed --- on account of the heart attack. No heart attack, but I did leap with youthful speed and agility out of the chair. He stopped at the corner and looked back at me, then off he slithered along the front of the house.
I galloped inside for my phone and gave chase.
He was proceeding at a leisurely slither and I noticed how he'd grown. No longer the skinny juvenile we'd met last year, he was now as thick as a rope and five or six feet long. He stopped as I approached and turned to look at me. "Wanna a piece of this, Lady?" he seemed to be saying, holding his head up regally with the rest of him in langorous loops beneath. For added emphasis he rattled his tail. He's a black racer so I wasn't really scared. He keeps lizards and rodents from taking over the world. Humans are not on his menu and he'd obviously been dining very well on our local lizard population, none of whom were in evidence, though we're usually tripping over them this time of year. Smart. They'd scarpered up the walls and into the trees. I dropped back to a more respectful distance and followed him around the side of the house. He stopped again by the barbeque to check my progress. I maintained my distance and clicked away, wishing I'd had time to get my real camera and not just my phone.
As he advanced across the patio I crept along behind, not spooking him but trying for a better shot. Eventually he tired of me and slithered off out the back. I puttered around in the garden for a while and eventually made my way back to the front porch, remembering my abandoned book. All thoughts of my book evaporated when I looked at the front door. Not to be deterred by the presence of humans Sir Hiss had circled 'round and stretched himself out the full length of the threshold. No picture for obvious
reasons. Whatever alarming noises I made they were enough to scare him off once more into the bushes.
I was AWOL, off behind the bamboo, having a last gander at some outlying straggler bushes when I spied a slinky blackness slither in among the canes and disappear. Sir Hiss, I presumed, and backed off to safety. Or perhaps it was Lady Hiss this time. Whatever. The bamboo is way back behind the house. A much better location for Hiss and his ladies than on the porch chairs or across the front threshold.
Florida's been home forever to snakes, lizards, tortoises, alligators, panthers and all manner of creeping, crawling creatures --- and, in recent times, humans. I feel bad for these critters that, because of us, their habitat has drastically shrunk. I respect their right to their space; I'll stomp, shuffle, sing, whatever it takes to give them fair warning to vamoose when I'm picking blackberries out back or just wanting to enjoy the shade of the bamboo. However, it is difficult to sing while reading, and I can't follow the plot if I'm dancing so I hope that Sir Hiss will stay off my porch for the rest of the summer so I can read in peace.