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6:17 a.m. - 2023-05-17
teenage water-snake

I met a teenage water-snake.

A thunderstorm was threatening when the encounter occurred, and a breeze had kicked up. This felt good after a close, warm, morning spent working out on the pond, so I shed my toolbags and took a few minutes to stretch out the old back. It was then that I peered over and spotted him sidling up to the dock.

(They're natural sidlers, water-snakes. It's kind of their thing, really.)

How did I know he was a teenager? Well he was too big to be a baby snake, plus those are rarely seen...hewing instead to the creature-y comfort of the family hole. A good place to hone yer predatory minnow squints and a familiar redoubt should the shadow of hawk or heron darken the pond. But he wasn't fully-grown yet either. I doubt I would have “met” him if he had been. “Spotted” sure...and had he spotted me he would have snaked coolly away into the reeds and cypress roots, as adults do. But regardless of his length and girth, I would have known he was a teenager by his attitude alone...

He'd caught me peering at him and stopped mid-sidle. But instead of ducking away under the dock like his snake-parents had surely taught him, he just stared back at me, unblinking; his brazen cheek betrayed only by the occasional nervous tongue-flick. Then, without breaking eye contact, he did something I'd never seen: coiling the rear-half of his body into an elaborate loop, as if he were about to tie himself in a knot, before uncoiling vigorously and launching away from the dock. Rather than snaking his way homeward though, he executed a perfect Olympic swimmer's turn and returned to the dock for more aggressive sidling before stopping again to stare up at me.

(If he had been wearing a tee-shirt, it would have been plain-white and tight. He'd also have a little pack of smokes rolled up in his sleeve...knowing full well how wrong it is for a snake to wear sleeves, but daring you to say something about it.)

We must have stared at each other for two minutes before I committed a taxonomic faux pas. Thinking that this encounter had to go somewhere (?), I reached down to grab him by the tail. He was gone in an instant of course; disappeared with a slither and a splash. What a clumsy ape I am...“pick him up by the tail”. Really? A snake is a tail. A tail with eyes and a flicky don't think they're self-conscious about that?

Anyway, I'm hopin' he'll forgive me and visit again.



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