Monday, June 16, 2014

Snakes Alive!

Phillip displays velvet-tip rattlesnake.

Living in the middle of the woods, you’re bound to encounter a few snakes. Yet I’ve seen surprisingly few in the 13 years I’ve been here. When I do come across one, my inclination is to leave it alone. Live and let live, so to speak. 

However, when Phillip B., a former tenant, and I discovered a velvet tail rattler under a tarp near my shed a couple of years ago, I decided he was too close to where the grandsons would be playing. So I asked Phillip to put him out of my (sic) misery.  Same thing with the nest of copperheads he found in my pond last year while cleaning out the cattails. 

The other morning as I was headed to the barn to feed my critters, I encountered what a first glance told me was a harmless black racer stretched out on a step in my retaining wall. He was as long as the step was wide, but not particularly large or menacing. “Hello there, fella,” I  addressed him, hoping he was the friendly sort. He didn’t answer back, at least not at first.
Poppa and Momma Copperheads found in my pond.
They had five babies in their cattail nest.
Then I noticed he wasn’t black all over, but had a yellow and black underbelly. The next thing that caught my attention was his tail, because he began to shake it at me.  Later, I discovered that many snakes try to mimic the sound of a rattlesnake to scare their enemies. At the time, all I could think of was a rattlesnake. I calmly turned around and walked back to the house for my camera and my George stick, which is what my former tenant, a Cherokee Indian, called the walking stick he used to traverse my trails. “George” was his euphemism for “snake.” But by the time I got back to my steps, George was gone. 
I guess he just didn’t feel like having his photo blasted all over the internet.

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