Sunday, June 3, 2012

Close Encounters

 The other day, a neighbor and I were walking our dogs, minding our own business, chatting away, when suddenly she began shrieking.  Well, shrieking may be too strong a word.  She jumped and shouted - and got my immediate attention.  I looked around, trying to identify the source of her woe.

There, on the sidewalk, was a rather large black snake, just hanging out.  Turns out, her dog, Casey, had stepped on the snake.  The snake seemed unconcerned.  I feared it might be dead so I gently poked at it with a twig.  Out flicked its tongue so I knew it was okay.  We watched it for a few minutes, then it regally turned and slithered into the grass beneath a pine tree.  We watched in awe as we saw its body stretched out - to about 4.5 feet!  That's a pretty large snake for the 'burbs!

If you've never seen a snake move up close, you should.  The move very gracefully (except for the sidewinders) and can disappear (and reappear) in a wink.  This guy, once back in the grass, lifted up its head about a foot in the air to reach one of the low hanging pine boughs and slithered up the slenderest of them.  We watched, hypnotized, as the snake quickly climbed the tree!

I'm a suburban gal but I've spent a lot of time in rural Arkansas as a child and teen.  My Mamaw liked her king snakes and black snakes as they kept down the rodent population in the barn and shed (and, ick, probably the house too!).  So, I've never feared them.  But, any animal can surprise me with its sudden appearance in my path - or in my house as happened once years ago.

Since I typically walk outdoors with my four-legged buddy by my side, I am seldom surprised with the presence of wild life up close.  I see lots of birds, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, red tail hawks, and the occasional fox.  If you life in the suburbs and you walk at dusk, there is wild life around you even if you are not aware.  Deer, especially, will quietly appear in a field or a yard.  The dog usually alerts me to their presence long before I would see them on my own as they are well camouflaged.

I'd far rather see deer than snakes, but our snake encounter was pretty cool.

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