Sunday, June 05, 2016

The Return of Sir Hiss

Have I mentioned Sir Hiss?

He came to live with us oh, maybe eighteen months ago. We found him on the porch. I love to sit on the porch and read. Fortunately, I was not sitting when I found him. I had just lifted a cushion from one of the chairs to shake off some leaves when --- Surprise! There was a snake coiled up on the seat, keeping himself warm no doubt. After the initial discovery we were careful to check under the cushions before sitting down. To sit and, too late, realise something reptilian had bagged that seat before you --- well, the mind boggles!

 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.

It was an instructive encounter for me. I tend to forget that we share our habitat with reptiles, not all of them as helpful and benign as the racers. Today we were picking wild blackberries out back, a mission the OC likes to accomplish with military precision. He likes to be thorough. I flit. Between us, nevertheless, we had gathered up a fine bowl of shining black jewels.



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.






19 comments:

Thimbleanna said...

Ummm. I don't even know what to say. Except, maybe ... I. Hate. Snakes. I think, upon finding the first one coiled under the cushion, I would have RUN to TheManoftheHouse and declared that we must move. You're much braver than I.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

You're braver than I !
Mind you , I'm not desperately keen on gigantic spiders ,but years of convincing small children that 'spiders are our friends' seems to have worked . I can remain calm , while edging past ...

Elephant's Child said...

I am a complete wimp where snakes are concerned. A red-bellied black (venomous) lived under the front steps in one of our homes. For about nine months of the year I only used the back door.
I can appreciate their beauty (from a distance) and do acknowlege their right to be there, but...

Molly Bon said...


Anna-Banana --- I used to feel that way. My older boys always begged for a pet snake and were told it was a choice between a mother or a snake. The two could not exist under one roof. And then along came youngest son, aka The Bean, whose first obsession was dinosaurs. As he grew he became interested in snakes, devouring every issue of Reptile magazine, and eventually wore hism other down mainly through educating her! I would never keep a snake as a pet myself and though I miss The Bean one of the pluses of him not living here anymore is that we do not have his snakes hereTeither. This being Florida though, once you step outside, you have a chance of encountering a snake. But mostly, if you leave them alone they won't bother you.

S&S -- No bravery involved! They're just a fact of life in Florida. We could call on St. Patrick to banish them as he allegedly did in Ireland, but then the world would be taken over by all the vermin snakes eat....

EC --- You can be sure I don't go out there seeking them. This was a bold one who decided to come to me! I always check under the cushions now.

Lee said...

I do not like snakes; in fact, I hate snakes...with a vengeance!

ganching said...

Blackberries in early June?

dianne said...

shriek.

no amount of educating will EVER allow me to not be petrified by reptiles ... or arachnids ... or vermin ... or insects ... no, not EVER.

Ali Honey said...

We are so lucky not to have snakes in NZ. I would not be the keen gardener I am if we did.

Molly Bon said...


Lee --- I'm surprised! I'd have thought you, with your vast experience, would be OK with them!

Ganching --- our average temps right now are in the nineties, 'nuff said.

Dianne --- Breathe Dianne! You must spend all your time on high ground. Ah, you live in Colorado, but I was thinking more on top of tables, desks and chairs..... Breathe.

Ali --- No snakes in NZ? Live and learn. Just as well. We would all be deprived if you didn't garden!

Susan Kane said...

That is one heck of a snake! Six feet, maybe? Check under pillows next time.

Blackberries, sigh. When I was a child, we would head out to the woods and pick the wild blackberries, bags of them. Cream (from our cows) and blackberries. another sigh.

Secret Agent Woman said...

As long as they aren't poisonous, I'm happy to have snakes around. Keeps the mouse population in check! That one is a beauty.

Molly Bon said...

SK --- I do, I do! As for the blackberries, I've made one pie already and have bags of them standing by in the freezer....

SAW --- Finally! Someone whose not freaked out by them!

Molly Bon said...


Oops, excuse my spelling! Meant "who is" of course.

Pauline said...

The "in the hospital" remark made me snort :) Snakes galore here in MA, including rattlers, who when they shake their tails, mean business. I avoid all snakes whenever possible but once, as a young woman, stepped barefoot on one - it was dry and warm, not slimy as I'd thought one would be, but the willies that ensued will long be remembered by my family.

Molly Bon said...

Pauline --- Yes. It is nothing short of amazing how aged bones, with the right incentive, can momentarily regain their youth!

Linda said...

You have a lovely blog, Molly! Warm greetings from Montreal, Canada...I have never seen a snake before except a couple of harmless garter snakes in my childhood, perhaps. (I am 59 now). Thank you so much for sharing. :)

Molly Bon said...


Thanks for visiting Linda. I'm thinking it's a little bit too chilly in Montreal for snakes!

Anonymous said...

I came to your blog by chance and saw the post about ullagoning.
Molly , you were nearly there.
Greetings from Sheila who lives in County Kerry and who is enduring
what passes for summer. Rain and wind.

Molly Bon said...


Hello Shelia, I'm glad you found me! I know how to say it, I just have no idea how to pronounce it. Spoke to my sister in Limerick last week so I know all about the "enduring!"