Aug 4, 2008

"The Serpent Was Subtil" (Gen. 3:1)

I am such a sailboat. Pushed by the winds of chance, I go where the wind goes. Nature has a positive knack, however, for really ramping the wind up around me.

If you remember, the office I work at (the office I have referred to in past as "My Own Personal Slice Of Hell") is smack in the middle of a bean field. Soybeans, to be exact. About half a mile behind us is four rectangular man-made lakes, and those, combined with the hundreds of acres of beans means that our office tends to be the central meeting spot of many of Nature's creatures who live therein, including those that creep along the ground upon their bellies.

Last week Nature decided to send me a gust of wind, seeing as I've been lost in the doldrums so often these past few weeks. I was sitting at my desk doing my little data entry bit when I noticed our Clinical Manager get out of her car and start toward the front doors. She walked up close, did a classic silent film double-take, panicked and backstepped toward her car as fast as she could go. Naturally curious, and pretty sure what she'd seen (a paticularly large Rhinoceros beetle or something like that,) I opened the door slowly, not wanting to injure whatever was on the other side of the sweep and pushed a two foot garter snake away.

There was no question what he was--around two feet long, a beautiful deep green sinuous curve with pale green and yellow rallye racing stripes down his back, no thicker than a pencil at his widest point. He couldn't get much traction on the concrete walkway there in front of the office so I had a pretty easy time of catching him. I walked back to the door with him writhing around my hand, beaming smiles. My intention was to do as my father had always done with us--capture the creature and bring it to my brother and I to teach us--what was harmful and what was not, how a snake wasn't slimy or vile, and any number of other things.

Well, it didn't quite work like that.

My office manager and the clinical manager who had speed-walked into the office while I was playing herpetologist locked the door, eyes wide and in full Panic Mode. I guess it didn't help that I'd caught him rather far down his length and given him room to move, because around then he managed to twist around and bite me. Several times, actually.

This sent them over the top, but I could feel that his little mouth and tiny little teeth weren't even strong enough to break the soft skin of my upper hand, so I let him thrash and bite, hoping it'd make him feel better for all the ignoble treatment I was dishing out.

I realised there was no way I was going to do any teaching that morning so I laughed, carried him over to the edge of the bean field and let him go. Unsurprisingly, they wouldn't let me inside until I'd proved my hands were empty. They freaked out some more over the bites (so small they didn't even show red marks) and I told my office manager that I'd had worse bites from anole lizards, but that just freaked her out more, so I stopped.

The little guy had exuded some of his musk on me as part of his two-pronged attack, hoping I'd let him go since he was suddenly disgusting and since I was already withering under his wicked bite. I washed up in the bathroom sink, but, rather pleasantly, I kept catching little whiffs of the musk on my skin throughout the day, probably where his tail had wrapped around my forearm. It made me smile throughout the day, thinking of the manifold wonders of Nature, all the myriad forms Life manages to take, and the memories of the first time my father had carefully, lovingly held out a deep green, striped piece of Life for me to lay my curious fingers upon.

10 comments:

meno said...

I would have opened the door and come out to see your catch.

Shao said...

I would have bitten off the snake's head and eaten it in front of his clutchmates.

Gordo said...

There's a garter snake hibernation den on our cottage property, Irr. I have a feeling that you'd be right at home in Spring when several hundred of them emerge into the sun.

Unlike my brother, who doesn't like snakes and found the den. LOL

Joan of Argghh! said...

You're just trying to get fired! I love little garter snakes. They're good children.

And there you were, all musky. The women may have been squeamish, but I assure you that you become harder to ignore after that!

Irrelephant said...

That's one of the reasons that your Em turned out so good, meno--you've got an open mind, and you're more wonderful than ever for it.

Shao, somehow I don't doubt that. *lmao*

Gordo, I'm so envious! Yes, you're probably right. I'd be sitting right there covered in little wiggly green bodies.

There may be a somewhat employment-destructive bent there, Joan, there may well. *lol* It makes me smile to know that you're not a squealing, panicked woman when it comes to a little snake.

Hah! Hadn't thought about it that way! There I was, smiling to myself over a little snake and there they were, smiling because of other things. I always miss the subtle signals!

Clowncar said...

What a cool deal. I like how you write of the musky smell kept coming back, reminding you of your Dad.

Have the lawyers been to see you today? Worried about a potentially deadly - and litigious - allergy to snake musk?

And, hey, congrats on your your girl/bat returning home. That must be nice.

Scott from Oregon said...

I had a gopher snake as a pet that I liked to shove down my pants and out the front zipper so I could chase girls while on my bicycle.
\
Check out this monster...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7537932.stm

Mona Buonanotte said...

I know I should like snakes...but they creep me out. I tend NOT to think of this as anything Freudian....

Jean said...

Sorry. NO snakes.

Irrelephant said...

Clowncar, I've not heard from them yet, but I'm going to plead religion. They all saw me handling that snake...and yes, it's marvelous good to have her home again. There are days when I wonder if I'll ever survive parenthood, and days I wonder how I could survive without it.

If I saw that in my front garden, Scott, I think I'd probably pee myself. I certainly wouldn't be able to jog over to it and pick it up with such aplomb. Hell, I doubt I COULD pick it up.

*lol* Mona, nothing Freudian about it. You wouldn't even want to touch it if I was holding it carefully for you? *puffing on my cigar*

Jean! You live a stone's throw from the Everglades! You're surrounded by slithery things but don't like them? Aw!