My roommate came to find me earlier this week to say there was a snake at the back door. She was heading to our tiny patio there as the dryer is across it, in the former garage. I was immediately intrigued – A Snake! I grew up in Jersey where about the worst predator was a crab scuttling at you sideways on the beach. Or a jellyfish alert from the lifeguard on duty. So, a snake was a teaser I couldn’t miss.
Just outside the swinging back doors, like an inch outside, was a small grass snake lying quietly. I got the feeling he (for the sake of not knowing how to sex snakes), was waiting politely for an invite into our (only slightly) warmer back room. Or maybe he had heard about the latest mouse in the pantry (our third in as many months.) I told G. I’d be right back & zipped to the fireplace for the shovel. I scooped the snake up on it & winged it outward – attempting to deposit it upon the bordering back ledges in the yard.
I have unerring, almost Freudian aim when I throw things. I once hit our cat in a tree she used to climb, far to the left of our house in Cherry Hill. I was aiming the tennis ball at the roof – a pretty broad target, kind of like the side of a barn. I threw a curve ball that bounced on the branch where she was often adventured. I have no idea how I did that, to this very day. I even threw left-handed…which is how I play Skee Ball, tho I’m really a right-hand gal. (As to why I was tossing tennis balls on the roof, if you’ve ever tried to exhaust a Golden Retriever puppy, rolling balls off the roof sometimes works & may also contribute to an understanding of why Jitters was in the tree.)
I have thrown pebbles into car windows accidentally (windows open only a couple of inches) when I wasn’t aiming anywhere near the car. I’ve thrown shoes or sock balls or any number of things during a long life of playing with pets. I’ve rarely landed any item near where I aimed. In fact, it was almost legendary that when I picked anything up & “rared back” with it, an alarm sounded over town & all ran for cover. I am not embarrassed to say I never hit anything in my sights – but what I did manage to clobber proved pretty damned funny over the years.
So, as you can see by the photo above, I missed the back ledges because there was a black walnut in the middle of the yard & I managed to wrap that poor, cold, stunned snake around a branch of it. I think he did a pretty good job catching on, myself. And there was only one thing taller than me in the area, which was the tree. But, really, what are the odds? He hung out there long enough for me to grab a couple of snaps with my phone to send to friends.
Two of these returned the email with an identical question & comment: “Snake is Messenger. Did you ask it for a message? Hmmmm.” And my abashed answer was “nope” because while I know much about animal totems & their meanings, I haven’t encountered Snake before. So I’ve not consulted the animal totem books for this particular reference.
Well, it made me wonder what the encounter may have been about. Aside from a passing thought, “If I were Eve, we’d need a very small fruit here, like maybe a cherry tomato,” I didn’t think about a message at all.
Two days later, an even smaller grass snake was “ssss-ing” its way across the front entry hall by the door. (If you’ve ever seen a snake moving along, it makes an “s” out of its body & somehow accordions from one place to the next.) This guy wasn’t cold; wasn’t slow; but was a little confused about being indoors, I think. My two shopping carryalls were right there, along with our Maglite. It was about 11 in the morning of a beautifully sunny day, the Saltillo tile steps outside were warm, dry & easily climbed. The screen door had a 1” bend in the frame along the bottom & all of this contributed to his entry. Plus, we have not yet caught the mouse who is dining on Ramen Beef soup packets every evening. And leaving mouse poops in trails … necessitating wiping out the pantry frequently. (While snakes “s” along, mice poop along. I think, like old cars that go putt putt putt, they go poop poop poop.) What did I say in a very recent blog about shit happens, but that doesn’t make it decorative? Gotta be more careful here!)
I ran for the trusty fireplace shovel, but this guy wasn’t into hanging around to be shoveled out & I will say I backtracked quickly when it slithered at my flip-flopped feet. But touching it with the shovel brought on a quick u-turn which I was able to exploit by lifting the bags it hid under & touching it once more when it curled up next to the Maglite. I guess snakes have second thoughts & the better part of finding a warmer nest turned into essss-cape out that inch of exposure. One more touch to its tail-end sent it to gone. It was a relief not to have to try to scoop up a fast-moving skinny little guy for a toss out the door. This is likely a good thing as I didn’t land it on any neighbors walking their dogs nearby – a real risk given my targeting handicap.
My roommate was only slightly more freaked this time around, when I told her. She said, “I’ve never had snakes near the house! What is going on here!?”
And then I remembered I should have asked this one about a message – take two & I was gripping the shovel, clueless to cues. I looked wistfully out the door & around the rain barrel, just in case Snake had hung out to fulfill its mystical duty. But sadly, it was not around; tho I admit I didn’t look too hard. I think I am getting messages differently these days, like email & by phone. Just not used to natural Western Union.
Snakes also are about transformation since their highlight is shedding skin. But I’m still me, still can’t throw worth a hoot (evidenced shortly after this by tossing my flipflops in my room & one landing on the bed, one landing under it.)
What could it have been, this message? “Aim better in life?” “Don’t mess with fireplace shovels?!” “If you ever trap the mouse, we’ll be out here?” “Not today, but in a couple of days, you’ll be up at 2 a.m. writing blogs about us?”
I will never really know.
But I’m ready for #3 now! Just hope they don’t send a rattler as an exclamation point!