Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Don't Step On A Crack...

Remember when you were a kid, and there was the saying "Don't step on a crack or you'll break your Mother's back!" I don't know if kids still say that, but this afternoon if I had stepped on a crack, I would have broken a back. Although it wouldn't have been my Mothers.

When I step off of my porch a sidewalk like walkway leads to the left and meets the driveway. Where the two meet isn't quite level, with the walkway being about an inch lower.

This afternoon I went out to get the mail. On the way back I nearly stepped on the crack between the two when it registered in my brain that it was darker than it should be. I sidestepped quickly thinking it was a stick or something and I didn't want to fall down. I am a little clumsy sometimes, and prone to spraining ankles and breaking toes.

After I recovered I turned to pick up the stick, but discovered in fact it wasn't a stick at all. Instead it was a ramrod straight garden snake, spanning the walkway perfectly. Of course it's always a little shocking to see a snake when you're not expecting it and I let out a shriek since I was bent over halfway by the time I realized what it was.

I ran back inside feeling some perverse need to take a picture of it. I grabbed the camera and ran back outside. It was gone. I was a little disconcerted because I didn't know garden snakes could move that fast.

The mailman was extremely late today so I had to go check about three times before he finally came. Talk about paranoia, I was looking very carefully where I stepped. The only thing worse than seeing a snake is knowing one is around and not knowing where it is.

I also had to go out to the garage several times today, and I was walking cautiously in there as well. We have had several snakes in there before, and with the rapidity that it vanished combined with the close proximity to the garage door I had to wonder if he had gone inside.

I have a love/hate relationship with the garter snakes that move in every year. They are sort of creepy looking; dark green with two parallel yellow stripes running down their backs and they always surprise me in an unpleasant way. Not to mention that they will coil up and bite if they feel threatened. Their bites will cause itching, swelling and redness. But they also keep the mice population down.

It's my fault that the mice and the snakes both come to my house. I have a very large bird feeder outside my window that hangs above a forest of apple mint. The birds knock the seeds into the mint, the mice move into this lovely secluded retreat to eat the seeds that fall, and the snakes are drawn to the mice.

So every year we have to catch and relocate some of the snakes to a nice field not far away with all the amenities they like. My Mother says I should just kill them, but I don't like to kill anything really. I know snakes aren't cute and cuddly and people have tendencies to kill things more easily that aren't cute. But it's not the snakes fault it's a snake and not a puppy.

Plus snakes don't come in the house when it gets colder (at least not so far and I sincerely hope it stays that way) and mice do, so it does me a service while it's here.

Still though creepy crawlies aren't really my thing...and I will be watching the cracks I step on for a while to come!


Heather said...

When we lived in Upstate NY there was a small stream that ran through our backyard, and every year the garter snake babies would just kind of amass there, and the stream would be writhing with snakes instead of water... we used to go down with a lacrosse stick and scoop them up and haul them away by the bucket-load...
so needless to say, I've grown immune to the little slitherers...
I still always want to take pictures of them too though :)

I think my immunity to non-poisonous snakes also comes from living in California, though, where rattlesnakes were something we ran into often. Once on a Girl Scout Outing, we found a rattlesnake who was flipped over, on his back on a rock... and we honestly thought he was dead. We got up close and inspected his rattle, someone moved him slightly with a stick... and then we went to leave (because, really, we were a bunch of little girls who, while thinking the dead snake was cool, had no desire to touch it) the snake flipped over and slithered away. SCARY!

Here in Michigan, though, we have fewer snakes and more box turtles... who are like adorable little moving rocks... our own self-landscaping zen garden, in a way... and they come to our yard because it used to be a strawberry farm, so all of the strawberry plants are still sprouting up in the grass everywhere, but only with tiny strawberries that seem to appeal to no one BUT the turtles.

On a final snake note, if you ever have the chance to inspect a Rainbow Boa up close... do so! Their skin is irridescent and beautiful!

Sorry to ramble on about snakes!

Heather said...

One more quick note... I seem to be having a problem getting your web page to load... is the page down, or is this just a problem on my end?

Kelly said...

Last year one of the snakes had babies who were all sunning themselves all over my driveway when I came home one afternoon. I kinda freaked, I don't like anything in large qauntity. I can't imagine so many in the stream! *Shudders*

My webpage seems to be loading fine now, they may have been doing some maintenance on the hosting site when you tried to look?

Coralie Cederna Johnson said...

Snakes are lovely but you don't want to step on one...I did just that as a teen coming out of the lake with bare feet! Guess that experience would be just too hard to forget and your incident reminded me! Actually a pretty cool memory!

Heather said...

It is loading fine for me now too... I guess my computer just felt like flipping out through the start of this week!

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