Sunday, July 9, 2017

sssslither

I walked down the laneway to open the gate for Carm, my head in the clouds, oblivious. “LAURA LOOK AT THIS” (caps on purpose). I rushed back up to the house urged on by the urgency in his voice. It was a ssssnake. A garter snake about 45cm long. A snake that disappeared into the garage as I skidded to a stop.  A plethora of junk leaning against the wall hid it from sight as it slithered into the darkness. Carm started rattling some of the detritus and soon we saw its head appear back at the door, followed by the rest of it. It undulated along the outside of the garage and disappeared under the deck.

I’ve been seeing lots of snakes this summer, mostly small ones too small to eat mice.

Pat the pet sitter came for supper last night. Grace was happy to see her, as were the big dogs, but one little brown dog seems to associate her with us leaving so for part of the night he hid out in our bedroom.

Today has been a grab bag of weather, cool with some sun and intermittent showers. I took Grace out to the deck for a shower au natural but she wasn’t impressed.

We were examining a big hole with two entrances. The burrow sloped into the ground at a gentle angle, so that we could see where the two corridors united, and the floor was dusty from use, like a little highway over which much travel went. I was walking backward, in a crouching position, when I heard Antonia scream. She was standing opposite me, pointing behind me and shouting something in Bohemian. I whirled around, and there, on one of those dry gravel beds, was the biggest snake I had ever seen. He was sunning himself, after the cold night, and he must have been asleep when Antonia screamed. When I turned, he was lying in loose waves, like a letter "W". He twitched and began to coil slowly. He was not merely a big snake, I thought - he was a circus monstrosity. His abominable muscularity, his loathsome, fluid motion, somehow made me sick. He was as thick as my leg, and looked as if millstones couldn't crush the disgusting vitality out of him. He lifted his hideous little head , and rattled. I didn't run because I didn't think of it - if my back had been against a stone wall I couldn't have felt more cornered. I saw his coils tighten - now he would spring, spring his length, I remembered. I ran up and drove at his head with my spade, struck him fairly across the neck, and in a minute he was all about my feet in wavy loops. I struck now from hate. Antonia, barefooted as she was, ran up behind me. Even after I had pounded his ugly head flat, his body kept on coiling and winding, doubling and falling back on itself. I walked away and turned my back. I felt seasick.”
~Willa Cather