Monday, July 27, 2009

Misunderstood Neighbor

What do you suppose has them so upset?” Mary asked as she stood looking out the sliding door leading onto the covered porch. Outside, a handful of titmice raucously fretted, hopping excitedly between the porch railing and the holly tree that infringes into the space. Something was up.

Curious, I joined her at the door to figure out what their issue was. As Mary peered intently into the holly and the woods beyond, I looked down and there, eight inches from our toes, on the other side of the glass, was a four foot black rat snake, stretched across the jam, looking back in at us. I pointed down. Mary’s eyes followed and she calmly replied, “Well, I guess that would do it”.

In general, snakes get a bad rep, probably started by that whole Garden of Eden apple thing. We, however, are happy to see the occasional black snake, knowing they are keeping rodents away from the place as well as helping discourage another less appreciated serpent, the eastern copperhead, from hanging around our house in the woods. My neighbor, the naturalist, says the copperhead prevention is not scientifically validated, but country logic holds it to be true and we’re sticking by it. Sure, I was unhappy when a black snake got into one of our bluebird houses this spring, but that was my fault for not having it properly baffled and quickly remedied.

So we live with the occasional glimpse of the slinky creatures and appreciate them for their contributions. To compensate, we have gotten into the habit of making a little noise before we reach into their favorite places, the woodpile or around the potted plants on the decks. A startle here and there is small price to pay for our all-natural Orkin man.

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