The Suitcase Lady

Panic

August 2, 2016, 9:23 pm

We had just found a parking spot on a busy street in the heart of a small lake town near our house. The temperature was edging up to 100 degrees and people were outside trying to catch a lake breeze. And then I spotted it.

As I got out of the car, I couldn’t believe my eyes………a 16 inch long, hot dog width snake was wriggling along the gutter just in front of us. I panicked.

I was not one iota afraid of the snake. I was panicking because I feared for the snake’s life. Surely a car would pull into that parking space and run it over? Or people would see me staring at the curb in wonderment and come over and bludgeon it. Visions of tourists running and screaming flashed into my mind.

Since I own the handy little book, Snakes of Wisconsin, I knew this fine reptile was absolutely harmless. Of our 20 native snakes, only two are venomous and they both live on the other side of the state. This handsome creature was a garter snake.

I also knew that viewing the snake was a rare moment. Our home is surrounded by prairie grasses, woods, fields and sand, all perfect snake habitat. I would love to share our space with the occasional snake just as I am always delighted to discover toads and frogs in the yard. Sadly, in the last two years, we have only seen one snake and it was the size of a worm. Seeing a snake is such a rare sight here that my husband called me outside when he spotted that little guy.

My first thought was to pick up the snake and quickly get it out of sight. But I did not have a cat carrier in the car, and the sight of a woman picking up a large snake surely would be noticed.

I did the only thing I could think of. I started talking to the snake. “Get out of here as quickly as you can boy,” I said. It undulated up the curb and on to the terrace grass. “Now head for that row of hydrangea bushes on the other side of the sidewalk.”

The snake went toward the bushes. No one but us had seen him. I sincerely hope he stayed hidden under those protective plants. The world needs all its beautiful creatures, and that includes the snakes.

garter

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