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photo by Sheri Dixon

Friday, May 25, 2012

Respecting Boundaries No Matter How Many Legs You Have

I shot a snake the other day.

*For the uninitiated- this was a "rat snake", "chicken snake", "water snake" (it all depends on what it's after and where you see it- all snakes can and do swim) otherwise known as a "Bigass Texas Black Snake"- generally about 6 ft long full grown. This one was full grown.

Not the first I've shot and not the last, I'm sure. It was inside the barn, eyeballing my baby ducklings that were paddling around in a big puddle in the barn aisle.

The only other ones I've dispatched were either IN chicken nests or had tell-tale lumps in their otherwise sleek bodies...egg-sized lumps.

Once a snake figures out where the really easy meals are, he'll keep coming back.

Hence, the death sentence.

Here's where it gets tricky.

We live in the woods.

There's a distinction between "ours" and "theirs" that is sometimes easy to spot and sometimes not so much.

We took out just enough trees to tuck our house into the ensuing space and have no "lawn" per se- we are by nature lazy bastards people who love the beauty of the natural world so having nature close up is not something that wears on our delicate sensibilities- I'll spend an hour watching the butterflies on the many wildflowers in front of the house before spending the same amount of time with the weed killer and mower any day of the week.

But as casual as I am about lawn and garden care and as much as I smile and shake my head at Edna's need to have her alotted 25 ft around her house kept perfect and trimmed, or our friend Cheryl's habit of trying to "tidy up the forest", every so often I have to stop myself from doing something humanly intrusive.

A few days after the last snake-in-the-barn incident I was talking on the phone with a friend, wandering around because unless I'm at the computer or driving I can't sit still, and I happened to look down...

...just before stepping on a big ol' snake in the leaves.

My first three reactions- it'll take me longer to type them than they went through my head-

-"WHOA, SHIT!"

-"That's smaller than the one in the barn was" (tracing it visually up to the head to verify that it's not poisonous)

-"Where's my gun?"

WRONG- the last one is WRONG and it surprises me and shows that even *I* am guilty of human invasiveness without cause.

Because here's the thing.

*I* was in *HIS* living room.

He's non-poisonous and wasn't in the barn or near anything else he might find tasty that we consider "ours".

Yes, Alec runs wild through those same woods barefooted and at all hours of the day or night and yes, Alec could step on him even though I say "WATCH FOR SNAKES" and yes, Alec or his spastic little dog could get bitten IF they step on him.

*I say "if they step on him" because I've actually been feeding the critters at the old house- in the shed measuring out feed and felt a slight 'tug tug tug' under my sandal, looked down and realized I was standing on the very tippy end of a big ol' black snake's tail- all he wanted was to get the hell outta there. That's all they ever want. Even the ones I've shot have NEVER come after me- they just try to get away.

And seriously- we have 12 acres. IF I shoot every single snake I see, that still leaves HUNDREDS of snakes- and 99.9% of those will never, ever decide they want eggs for breakfast and will never, ever be seen by a human.

We live in the woods by our choice. If we had wanted to live in a sterile "looks just like REAL nature but without any, yanno...NATURE in it" place we would be in a subdivision somewhere with a rustic-sounding name and a list of "allowed shrubberies" a mile long.

I prefer the snakes.






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