Saturday, May 20, 2006

A Snake in the Garden

By Christina VanGinkel

Being outside in the garden always has its concerns, such as dealing with the sun and bugs, or weeks where it seems to rain endlessly, day after day. Pollen can be a big fear with many people too. This year, here in the Midwest, it seems like we have been dealing with all of the above to the extreme. Adding to those issues, it seems like we have more than our fair share of snakes this year.

Yesterday afternoon, I was out in our yard, and was across the garden itself, up by our dog pens. My husband has four Plot hounds, and while they all frequent the house often, they spend the majority of their time outside. I had just refilled each dog's water dish, as one of the four, Jed, has developed the habit of dumping his water bowl as soon as he is done with his current drink. This has made for several additional trips throughout the day to make sure that he has water at all times. Yes, we are working on a more permanent solution, but at six years old, he is in our opinion just acting out. As the largest of our dogs physically, he is the biggest baby of them all. He honestly believes he lives in our house. He spends more time with us than not, but when he must be in his pen he acts out! He figures if he dumps his bowl and sits with it in his mouth staring at the house, sooner rather than later, one of us will come out and see why he has flipped it once again.

Anyway, after watering Jed and our dog Oz, I was going to cut through a small trail to the backside of our two female dog's pens, Manta and Cricket, when I decided not too. I figured I would just walk along the edge of the yard, as wood ticks are still a problem and we are still steering clear of tall grass if we can. The trail that I would normally take is in need of a mowing and I figured it would be better to avoid it. I took about three steps away from Jed, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a snake. Let me clarify, I saw a huge snake!

I do not like snakes, big, small, no matter their size, I am one of those people who upon seeing even something that might be a snake, will scream and run. This one was a snake, it was obviously sunning itself, and it was, by my husband's estimation when he saw it, the widest, biggest snake he had ever seen. My husband works outside year round, and has more than seen his fair share of snakes, so when he said it was the widest, biggest snake he had ever seen, that was saying a lot. That I had walked by it to get to the dogs in the first place was not lost on my conscious either. We have so much pollen landing on the ground right now, our yard looks like it has just been snowed on. He was partially camouflaged by all of the white.

Being it is the digital age, I ran inside the house, grabbed my digital camera, snapped a few pictures, and quickly emailed them to my brother in Texas so he could tell me what type of snake it was. Not a snake expert, he is just the person I would normally ask such a question as this, as he just knows these things. Now nearly twenty-four hours later, none of us has been able to identify it, though my husband is almost positive it was just an oddly colored pine snake, as he said they are about the only snake native to our area that could possibly grow that big. I am still wondering if it were not some exotic snake that someone had as a pet, and when it grew as big as it did, someone let it go.

No matter where it came from though, it is already the fourth snake we have had in our yard, and it is not even summer yet. If we normally see one snake a year, that would be one too many, but four and counting has me a bit on edge.

If you are like us, and spend a lot of time outdoors this time of year enjoying your garden and yard, keep in mind that there are concerns such as these to be aware of. If snakes are a possible concern, be alert and walk where you have a clear view. Stay safe!

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