Posted by: zhak39 | July 18, 2010

What kind of snake am I?

He did the right things.  Looking over his shoulder at the row of grass  he had just cut in the far back lawn edging the woods Chris saw movement.  He hopped off the lawn tractor and went all Jim Fowler , I mean Crocodile Hunter on it.  That is, he secured the head, grasped it firmly and plunked it in a can.

Behind Blue Eyes

One of the right things was to secure the little guy and then wash his hands.  Next step was to find mom.

“Mom, you got to see this.  I found a snake.”

“Oh, cool.  Where is it?”

“It’s in a can by the garage.  Check it out.”

The first thing that I noticed was it’s eyes.

“OK, see how blue the eyes are?  This little guy is shedding so it is probably pretty miserable.  Did it try to bite you?”

“No, but it peed on my hand.”


“Can keep it? I can put him in the terrarium in my room.”

It’s like a double exposure.  I see him at 17, I see him at 7.  Chris has always had an uncanny relationship with living beings.  He is the one to find turtles and crabs and snakes.  He leans in close, he has never been afraid, never squeamish.  Once when he was 9 he was walking in a field and a brand new butterfly, wings still damp brushed onto his shirt sleeve.  It crawled up to his shoulder.  He slowly walked up to the driveway, showed me then stood motionless in the May sunshine for more than an hour until its wings hardened and it took it’s first flight, brushing the softness of Chris’ cheek in farewell.

“Do you remember the rule?” I asked him.


“Yeah.  I can keep nature for one day.”

This rule goes way back.  As soon as Chris began toddling in the yard he started making friends with ‘nature.’  This was a challenge on a couple of levels, not the least was a copperhead that hunted in the garden next to the house.  I had a system of remembering events by an adapted Chinese calendar based on nature that found it’s way indoors.  Helen still shudders to remember the Year of the Giant Possum.  There was the Year of Chimney Swifts.  The Year of the Rats.  The Year of the Blue Tailed Skinks.  And my favorite, the Year of the Mating Black Snakes.  The rationale for keeping critters for just a day in a permanently installed terrarium on the porch is that often we couldn’t feed these visitors and after a couple of days we would have dead new buddy.  Chris understood this.  He could not keep anything for longer than he could go without eating.

“Tell you what.  You need to find out what kind of snake this is and what it eats.  If you can feed it, you can keep it.”

You know somewhere during adolescence as little boys become young men they lose that way of smiling that is like sunshine breaking out .  The kind of happiness that you see in puppies when they wag their tails so hard their nose quivers.

Chris gave me one of those looks.  Double rainbow.


  1. Phylum




    Species Order

    Species Suborder






    (Linnaeus, 1758)

  2. Maybe he can incorporate it into his stage show, like this famous person …

    … or maybe not.

  3. Ouch. What was he feeding that guy?

  4. Considering snakes have a lower jaw that can become unhinged to swallow something larger than they are, I would think a rat or maybe a rabbit.

    I found it amusing that Johnny Rotten was impressed.

    It’s all vaudeville, if you think about it.

  5. Vaudeville, eh?

    Mae West–feather boa

    Alice Cooper–poopy boa

    Have we progressed?

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