Kimmy Sophia Brown

Snake in the Grass, Alas!

Feb 5, 2007
When you have 2 acres of grass and a push mower, the lawn becomes familiar as your own skin. Maybe it’s kind of like a man shaving his face. You avoid that little bump and you pass over areas that need special attention, you notice something here, something there. I was pushing the mower through a 6 inch deep lawn last weekend when I saw something moving just ahead of the mower. It was rolling and thrashing, barely visable. I avoided it and looked down and saw a reddish brown snake turning and turning in a spiral. At first I thought I was seeing snakes mating or giving birth or something really weird. Then I saw a little face in the midst of it (no it wasn’t a discarded Barbie doll) and I realized that I was watching my very own little Animal Planet documentary of a snake crushing a rodent prior to consuming it. A very piteous site indeed. I ran into the house and grabbed all the kids eating lunch around the kitchen table and ran them back outside so they could lose their appetite and at the same time see this rare moment in nature.

The snake was aware of us, 6 faces peering down in a gawking circle. Suddenly it was gone and the little rodent body lay there alone and dead like the victim of a mugging. Where did the snake go? We were hopping around thinking it had gone for a slither between our feet but it had gone back down the rodent hole. After a moment its face appeared in the entrance of the hole, waiting for us to leave. I sent everyone back into the house and continued mowing, glancing back at the scene now and then, but saw no change. Then I forgot about it. When I returned a half hour later I found the little body gone, as well as the snake. Wow. That was macabre and sad in one way but it just reminded me of how so many things go on all at the same time on this earth.

The plumber came to see us a few weeks ago and saw a 5 foot black snake in our yard. Before we could say Jack Robinson, he grabbed a shovel and killed it. I don’t really like the idea of killing things that are just minding their own business but his motive was to protect us from a snake bite, albeit nonvenomous. We appropriated its long black body for an impromptu science class. Our boys and their friends dissected it and examined the intricate, neat and beautiful insides. A long red thing. A long black thing. What else would be inside a snake but long things? I don’t actually know what they all were, but they all fit in there and looked very orderly. It displayed an incredible design job by God, and was very impressive. A bump halfway down the body revealed a recent lunch of five baby birds. I thought back to a little bird I’d seen frantically thrashing across the street in the tall grass a few days before then and wondered if it were her children who found their way into the dark, tubular tummy.

I took my kids to the public pool in the little town near us. It’s a small town pool surrounded by trees with a nice shady place for moms to sit to watch the splashing. I started watching the clover in the grass and a group of bees who diligently landed on and frisked the clovers in quick time -- evaluating in a split second if anything was worth gathering and then moving onto the next one. So busy - busy as a bee. Nobody has to goad them into being busy -- get back out there and gather pollen you good for nothing couch potatos! No, they just buzz onward, frisking every flower in their path. And we get to benefit from their labor when we buy local clover honey (which I understand contains great properties to fortify the immune system!)

At a summer camp we attended last week, a bright green grasshopper landed on the hand of one of the teenage boys and he looked at it with awe and wonder. Then he mixed it into his bowl of chili and urged his friend to eat it. Another lesson of nature, man, the food chain and spontaneous outdoor menus. Next week’s column will be about Green Beret Wilderness Survival Roadkill Recipes. Bon appetite until we tune in again. All things bright and beautiful, the Lord God made them all.

Kim lives in Maine, which is lovely, and where she continues her enthusiastic relationship with Art, Music, Nature, Books, Animals, Humor and Trees.