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Posts Tagged ‘snake’

Good Neighbors

Returning from town to my cabin in the woods, I surprised Espresso, my black pussycat, holding court on a tree stump.  I killed the engine and watched.  He appeared to be communing with a fox lounging in the grass.  Mr. Fox had a full brush, tipped with white cream, and a thick, rich, coppery coat.  He displayed no fear, only a regal curiosity, but seemed to appreciate that I, in some strange two-footed way, belonged to the cat.  When Espresso finally jumped down and meandered toward me, the fox rose, yawned, stretched, and followed.  That did it!  Composure be damned!  I snatched up the cat and tossed him in the car.  The fox glared at me, disappointed that I had questioned his intentions or had deprived him of lunch;  I’m not sure which.  He paused to taste the air in several directions and finally moved on, slowly picking his way through the low brush and weeds, several over-the-shoulder appraisals punctuating a dignified retreat into a pine thicket.  I was sad to see him leave.  He was beautiful, and his trust a benediction.

One of the many wonders of my sojourn in the Appalachian woodlands has been the willingness of the wildlife to accept me.  The deer, opossums, raccoons, rabbits, snakes, birds and squirrels seem to understand that I have no interest in them excepting the wonder of our sharing this natural aesthetic.

One afternoon, my mind otherwise occupied, I stepped out the cabin door straight into the muscled black loops of a snake sunning himself on the deck.  A quick apperception assessed no danger since his coloring and head shape contraindicated the local poisonous varieties.  So I waited, one foot in the cabin, one planted on the deck, while the snake, warm and equable, uncoiled his smooth scaly length from about my ankle and glided peaceably across the warm boards.  He chose a likely gap between the planks and slid headfirst into the abyss.  It would have been a simple exodus, excepting a small bulge, probably a recent rodent snack, which brought his progress to an embarrassing halt.  Back out and seek another route?  No way!  He demonstrated his confidence in choice of exit strategies by elevating the entire following half of his person and doing an upside down hula-dance until the rest of him finally slipped through.

For many months Mr. Snake and I shared our quiet forest clearing as the best of friends.  Later as snowflakes fell and wood-smoke rising curled away, we kept the silent peace.

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