Huh ... ?
Well, she (obviously) was. Adorable, that is.
No, I haven't gone batty and I still claim no love for snakes - or any of the other creepy crawlies who want to share my life here on the hill.
I've grown accustomed to the worms when I garden. They were here first and serve a useful purpose. Besides, they're tiny. I even apologize when my efforts at weeding cut one in half. We both (three now?) know it's unintentional.
I guess I gave little thought to spiders before I read John Crompton and wrote those columns. Now I go out of my way to encourage them to hang around (oh, dear, well not quite that literally) and do miss the nightly action at my bathroom window. I seldom see them there this year.
Mice send me racing for the nearest chair - only by now the desire for a good photograph outweighs any other emotion so I guess they're OK too. For a while.
Snakes are something else. A small-ish black-ish one ended up in the basement (HOW???) and, since it was between me and my bass, it had to go. My girls objected strongly - they eat mice you know (the snakes, not my daughters) - and gave detailed instructions on how to catch and safely release. I promised I'd at least try to do better next time. That's right: I said I'd TRY.
The exception came at the conclusion of a recent day when I had just finished weeding my garden. On the way back to the house, I almost stepped on it. There it sat (laid?), head up, watching me.
I stopped. It didn't move. Neither did I.
Well, if it was going to be happy being there, maybe I'd have time to get my camera.
It hadn't moved when I returned. I was able to snap off a series of pictures. All right, I confess. I remained glued on the bottom step. Let it enjoy the entire yard.
But what a cutie it was!
Big black eyes fixed on me (and I daresay vice versa), its jaw and chin (I guess they have chins) were a lovely shade of such a light green it almost seemed beige. It was a very placid color to be certain. An irregular pattern of spots meandered down the part of its body that remained upright.
To be honest it looked more like a cartoon character (Disney anyone?) or perhaps an illustration in a happy children's book. I found it quite pleasing.
It seemed as curious about me and in no hurry to depart. I could only take so many pictures of a totally stationary snake and had no intention of stepping closer - or even off the riser.
I guess you could say I blinked first.
I returned to the house and tried to forget that I was sharing my beloved yard with a S-N-A-K-E, no matter how adorable. No matter how curious. No matter how cute.
It wasn't long before I discovered my caution hadn't been such a bad idea after all for, once the pictures were printed, I definitely recognized that "cute" head. Only, attached to it, was a body that went on and on and . . . and on.
The book (Peterson again) says the average garter snake doesn't grow over twenty-six inches long. It does add that the record is 48 inches.
I definitely had one, not a record, but certainly outside the average. This little guy's body just kept going.
And, I imagine, should I see it again, I'll get going too.
Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org