Wilderness Inhabitant Comes For A Visit

by Curt Kovener                    

I am fascinated by the surprises I find in the nature of the wilderness. Maybe it is the newly revealed woven intricacies of a dew-laden spider web or a youthful blue tailed skink exploring places in the sun but not straying too far from the safety of leaf litter cover or the ubitquitous chipmunks who always seem to be in a hurry no matter what they are doing.

And sometimes nature can be startling. Like when I open a shed door that gets opened infrequently and a wasp nest is revealed right at face level or when I am in the woods and hear the familiar drawn out c-r-a-c-k of a dead limb giving up to gravity and the resulting dull thud when it finds its place to decompose on earth.

Then there are other startling events like the one I enjoyed a few Saturday’s back. I had finished reclaiming my cleared portions of the wilderness by mowing and weedwhacking (and there are a lot of weeds to whack along the woods’ edge). After cleaning off the mowing equipment and brushing the grass clippings from myself, I thought it was time for some relaxing and a chilled adult beverage on the back deck.

Washing the remaining herbaceous debris from my face and arms to feel a bit more civilized, I prepared my ice laden refreshment and adjourned to the back deck anticipating the cooling breezes of the porch ceiling fan.

It didn’t take long for my latest startling nature moment to occur.

Wrapped around the deck post of the elevated porch, very close to when I intended to be sitting, was about a 5-foot rat snake, a cousin to the black snake.

 

Now I am not one of those who freaks out at the sight of snakes, particularly harmless ones like this visitor. I get an initial shock when I see them (even more so when they are within touching distance) but leave them alone to go on their way. Afterall, they are just looking for a meal.

The rat snake, like it’s name, loves to eat rodents. And believe me, there are plenty of rodents—moles, mice, voles, shrews, chipmunks—in the wilderness. I welcome his eradication program.

We respected one another’s space that day and I opted for another outdoor place to relax with my unspilled and unsipped adult beverage…I needed its calming effects more after the deck close encounter.

As luck or nature’s providence determined, as I sat on the front porch, I spied some movement in the grass which was my new friend coming to hunt in the front yard. I watched as he slithered down one of the many mole runs.

I cheered him on to dining victory and toasted his hoped for success.