Did you ever have a feeling someone was watching you? Just a hunch? No reason for it, really, just an inkling that made you turn your head and assess the situation? Yeah. Me too. Today, in fact. The Pony and I were returning home from town. We were a mere quarter-mile from our house, going up the lumpy bumpy gravel hill by our nearest toward-town neighbor. A hill so bone-jarring that I have a habit of driving on the wrong side of the road.
We often see squirrels darting around here. One time, we saw a deer looking back at us from the treeline. And today, as I eased my Tahoe (with its hillbilly hood ornament made of a cat hairball still intact) up and over an exposed boulder in the middle of the road, I had the urge to turn my head. To see what nature might provide for my entertainment. I was not disappointed.
Looking back at me, a scant two feet away, with only a thin pane of tinted auto safety glass between us, was this fellow:
We gazed at each other. I resisted the urge to squeal like the slugs in Flushed Away. I don't have a snake phobia. He simply startled me. I am, however, happy that our road is so dusty. Because I always keep my windows up. That said, I immediately put The Pony's window down. And passed him my phone. "Look at that snake! Get a picture of it for me, while I watch for traffic." I was, you know, on the wrong side of the road.
The Pony eagerly took the phone-camera. He enjoys wildlife. But he usually has his nose in his laptop unless I tip him off like a safari tour guide. "Okay. Where is it?"
"Right there! In the tree."
"I'm looking. But I don't see it."
"THERE! In front of you!"
"How can you not see that? Right by my window. I could reach out an touch him."
I pulled the car forward a bit.
"I'm not driving. I'm getting your window even with him for the picture. And anyway, you didn't even see him. If he was...a...snake...he would have bit you!"
"He IS a snake!"
"Yeah. I thought of that in the middle of my saying. Get me a couple of pictures. Wow! Look how long he is! Make sure you get his whole length. I bet he's four feet."
The Pony took my photos while shiny, muscle-rippling Mr. Snake posed. He turned his head a bit to follow my gaze when I drove forward.
The Pony took one of the magnificent specimen stretched out on his limb.
And a final one as we bid a fond farewell to our herpetological friend. Unfortunately, The Pony cut off Mr. Snake's head. Photographically. Not physically. But you can see that he stretches from one side of the picture to the other, from cut-off head to tiny tail tip. Oh, yeah. He's a black snake.
I would have loved to see Mr. Snake climbing the trunk of that tree. I don't normally think to look overhead when I'm in the woods. Who knows how many times I've been watched from above. I wonder what Mr. Snake was up to today. Was he merely finding a safe place for sunning? Eating a nest full of eggs? Swallowing baby birds? He had a little lump in his belly, about halfway down.
Dang! This is the outskirts of Backroads. Not the Amazon Rain Forest. Not a primeval swamp. It's almost civilization!
Welcome to my world.