Monday, June 11, 2007

The Dreamer

It was a short conversation. Consisting of two words, it couldn’t have been abbreviated more.



Julie didn’t answer and I didn’t wait for a response. Before I looked down, though she was behind me, I realized she was moving backwards and started back myself. I saw him about three feet in front of me. He was large for a Hopi Rattlesnake, long and fat and healthy. He was rattling and trying to move out of our path. In the strong breeze, I hadn't heard him.

We had been building shutters for our bedroom window and the battery on my drill needed charging. I walked around the corner of the house, exchanged batteries in the charger and walked back to the window. It was a distance of less than 50 feet. Where did he come from so quickly?

Our patio in front of the snake's favorite tree. (Larger version)

Normally, I see the first rattlesnake in the yard about mid-May. This year I saw the first one on April 1. By May 30, I had seen 6 – small, medium and large.

A neighbor who owns 40 or 60 acres about 4 miles north of us said he never see rattlers anymore. Over the years he’s killed everyone he’s encountered. Now, he’s overrun with mice. I’ve seen only one mouse in several months. I asked Julie if she wanted me to move the snake a couple miles away and she said no. She prefers the company of a mouse catcher rather than mice.

Our latest visitor spent a few days with us. His favorite spot was dozing beneath a Juniper on the southeast corner of a patio. One afternoon, I was working on the patio and heard an occasional buzzing that was never associated with my location or movement. It appears the snake was dreaming. I enjoy watching a dog twitch and try to bark while asleep. I always image a canine dream of an exciting pursuit of a rabbit or cat with the dog stretched out in long bounds gaining on his quarry. As I watched the snake I thought about the significance of his actions. Rattling is a sign of fear, danger and alarm. A rattling snake feels threatened. Was the snake having a nightmare about being stepped on by a tall two-legged animal that outweighed it by more than 200 pounds?

Rattles (Larger version)

Each time I saw the snake under his tree, I felt a sense of being blessed. When he wasn’t there, I checked the holes around the tree to see if he had moved underground to escape the afternoon sun. Sometimes, I got lucky and saw his tail at the opening of one of the holes.

Snake in hole
Escaping the afternoon sun. (Larger version)

After a few days the snake moved on. I miss him. He made me feel alive and rich and thankful. I wish he was back under his tree, basking in the sun, dreaming his dreams and adding to the richness of my life.

Dozing in the sun. (Larger version)


Blogger Buffalo said...

We part company on the subject of snakes.

6/12/2007 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

I wish I could share your generousity. The snake I encountered would have mixed with me, my wife, and my animals like oil and venigar; sooner or later, one mistep, and there would have been a death or a trip to the hospital, and I couldn't allow that. He would have been welcome to cross the road in front of my car; I would have avoided him. He would have been welcome to haunt the woods surrounding my property, it belongs to him. On MY domain, however, his contest versus mine meant one thing.....I heard him first, I survived the encounter. It sucks, I know, but that's life. Again, I raise a toast to your ability to share YOUR abode with the snake.......I do emplore however that you pay extra attention and not fall prey to a misunderstood step.

6/12/2007 07:38:00 PM  

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