Saturday, May 18, 2013

Shuffle Loudly and Carry a Big Stick

Vinca. Colourful but losing the run of themselves among the bushes.

Came home mid-afternoon one day last week. With one leg out of the car, I gathered up all the debris, water bottle, purse, books from the library, the mail, and milk from the grocery store --- what my father would call "the lazy man's load!"  All set to stagger into the house when something in the driveway behind the car caught my eye --- a snake! Winding lazily across the sun-warmed concrete towards the shrubs. I stared. How had I not run over him? Then movement returned to my feet and I galloped, fully laden, into the garage, burst through the door to the house, dumped everything on the kitchen table, grabbed my camera and dashed back outside, hoping he would still be there. The driveway was empty but I was just in time to spot his tail slithering in among the bushes where he paused in a sunny patch of dead leaves. He seemed in no hurry as I zoomed in on him for a couple of shots from the safety of the concrete. He very obligingly stayed still, watching me with his beady black eye as I snapped away.

Maybe the reason he acted so docile and moved so lazily was that he'd recently had a satisfying feed. Look at the width of that belly!

I emailed the photos to the Bean, very chuffed with myself at having identified him (I thought!) I was pretty sure he was a hog nose snake, reputed, by Wikipedia, to be harmless and un-aggressive. The Bean telephoned me....

"I hope you're not thinking of picking that snake up Mom."

Pick him up? Has he lost his mind? Does he think I've lost mine? Does he know his mother?  Granted, I no longer sprint in the opposite direction every time I see a snake, as I would have done years ago, but I could live a hundred lifetimes and never, ever, even once, be tempted to pick one up! No matter how harmless.... I've only calmed down enough about them to where I can get close enough to take pictures, from years of Bean talk about how there's nothing to freak out about, a snake is just another creature doing his job, keeping the vermin in check, keeping balance in nature.

"That's no hog-nose Mom. It's a juvenile diamond back rattler!"

Egads! And I was how close to him??

So what to do now about thinning out those vinca (top photo) that are taking over in that shrubbery bed where Mother Nature's rodent control workers are possibly lying low, staying warm among the dead leaves? Hip boots and the thick leather gloves I guess.

 Enough to freak a person out.


Elephant's Child said...

Egads doesn't begin to cover it. This is obviously remind me about snakes week in the blogosphere. I don't like snakes at all. I can (nearly) see their beauty, but they make my heart race. And, as I said on Dee's snakey post when we had a snake (venomous) living under our front steps I stopped using the front door. You are very, very brave. I would need a telephoto lens before I could take a snakes photo. And even then my hands would shake and blurr any photo I did take. Badly.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Although they don't scare me, I am of the mind that I respect their space if they respect mine. Having said that - my space includes a 20 m radius of wherever I happen to be walking, at any given time ;)

Relatively Retiring said...

I wonder which small domestic pet is inside that well-stuffed midriff.
I think the pruning and weeding can wait!

Susan Kane said...

A good full-throated scream is warranted here! Rattlesnakes scare whatever outta me!

Dee said...

Dear Molly, when I first looked at the picture I thought it was a diamond-backed rattler, but I saw no rattles and concluded I was wrong. I'm glad your son realized that it was a juvenile, but oh, I hate to think of you reaching down among the flower stems and shrubs. Peace.

Lee said...

I hate snakes! Did I tell you that I hate snakes! Yep! I don't like them at any shape or fact, I just hate snakes...with a vengeance!

Wisewebwoman said...

You hear that sound?

That's the banshee of my voice screaming all the way in Newfoundland!


Stay away, woman!


SmitoniusAndSonata said...

So is that tubby little belly just baby fat or next door's gerbil ?
The Great Outdoors really is outdoors in your part of the world , isn't it !

Secret Agent Woman said...

I love snakes and he's a beauty, but rattlers are dangerous. And juveniles grow into adults. Did you know they can strike the length of their body? Boots and gloves might not be enough. Be careful!

Secret Agent Woman said...

Hey, I finally did the Where I'm From thing you suggested!

David Oliver said...

When I saw the first photo I thought it was poisonous. They are short, fat and they have a definite sort of neck...where the head attaches to the body is smaller and the heads are relatively big.

How do I know this? Experience. I live in the woods.

I can't say I hate them because they do kill mice but I do hate sharing any space with them. The 20 m radius sounds good!

Enjoyed your post very much and will be back for more. BTW, many cats will keep snakes away, at least to some extent. I haven't seen any poisonous snakes here in awhile - only a black snake.

Julie's Journey said...

No the feeling well. For most of last summer, we had a red belly black snake living in our gardens. Hopefully only one but more had been sighted next door.

My approach to gardening was make a lot of noise in the hope that it would slither away somewhere safe for both of us.

Winter now, so maybe hibernation time has arrived.

Jenny Woolf said...

Can't help feeling glad we don't have deadly poisonous snakes in England, so when we do see one (a rare event) I can admire it without worrying too much. Your diamond backed rattler does have a beautiful outfit :) so thank you for the photos, though I am glad you didn't stay too close!