John and I have gotten a big head start this year on our spring clean-up. By the first couple days of April, we’ve had most of the beds cleared of leaves. I was working this weekend on the bed next to our waterfall, blithely raking up the piles of brown oak leaves (there are so. many. oak leaves.) when I grabbed a pile of leaves I had raked together and this critter came up with it.
I, of course, did what any mature adult gardener would do. I dropped the pile and ran, arms akimbo, screaming, “THERE’S A SNAKE, AND I TOUCHED IT!!!!!
Of course, there was nobody around to cater to my panic, except possibly some neighbors a couple blocks away. I ran into the house. “JOHN!!!” I yelled. No answer.
I ran back out, safe on the deck, staring over at the half raked bed, contemplating how to rescue my rake, and wondering if I could just let that area go natural.
I’m not a coward. I’m not.
I calmed myself and edged slowly toward the bed. There he was, in the same place, likely still half hibernated. Or maybe just frozen with terror, more so than me. I watched him for a bit. He was poking his head slowly around him, flicking out his tiny pink tongue, no doubt trying to figure out what he should do, what direction he should go, how he could find a less traumatic place to sleep.
I took a photo of him, and another. Later research revealed him to be a DeKay’s brownsnake, common and harmless, except to slugs, which he apparently likes to eat. Which is good, because slugs like to eat my hosta. Maybe we could be friends. Well, at a distance, anyway.
I eventually moved over to the other side of the bed and resumed my cleanup, far more cautiously. Next time I looked, he was gone. Nearby for sure, close enough to make a dinner of those slugs.