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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Snake

Sunday morning, I stepped out the back door on the way to the barn and saw something black and shiny in the grass. We have a few black garden hoses, so at first I thought it must be one of those. But then I got closer, and I realized this definitely wasn't a hose.


It was a snake.

About a five foot snake. He was creeping up the driveway, hiding behind the tomato pots and the crepe myrtles waiting to be planted. Sunning himself. He was super shiny and super lumpy. Maybe he just ate. Or maybe he was about to shed his skin - the layers of new and old start to look funny when that happens. I walked up slowly, because around here, shiny black snakes are either harmless rat snakes...or water moccasins.
See how lumpy he is? Ick. 
Thankfully, he was only a black rat snake. This knowledge was comforting...but I still wasn't ready to be excited that he was there. Go back out in the pasture and eat mice there, thank you very much.
Close up of the lumpiness.
He eventually moved along and I didn't see him for the rest of the day. But Monday morning, when I got back from the barn, I was leaning down to turn on the spigot and water the tomatoes, when Riddick went nuts. Growling and barking and jumping. The snake was back, and he'd wedged himself between the siding and the patio concrete. About six inches away from my face. Gah. Not a pleasant surprise.

It's funny: other animals hate snakes. Horses hate them. Dogs hate them. The barn cats hate them. None of them have ever been bitten, but it's instinctual on their part. The aggression is instant and automatic. Watch: if a horse can't run from a snake, it goes into stomping mode.
So, if it's instinctual for the mammals in my life, does that mean it's an instinctual aversion on my part too?
I always fall back on my gut feeling - on instinct. I was complaining to my mom the other day that I don't approach writing differently, and she reminded me that I do what feels natural - instinctual. And that I shouldn't fight it. I think she's right; she's right a lot of the time.
So, I'm writing and am still not a fan of snakes. Real dramatic, As the World Turns stuff around here, huh?

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