Friday, July 10, 2015

Snake Hunter

One of the reasons we were exploring the uncomfortable summer wilderness recently was my son's desire to find some interesting and rare snakes.  I know this sounds pretty weird.  But ever since he was a little boy, he has loved snakes.  He used to catch them and bring them home and keep them in his room for a few days and then we would take them back to the creek or wherever, and he would let them go.  Sometimes he would have as many as six or so snakes in his room.  Only one small one ever escaped (and I found him days later peeking from around the edge of the couch and was very relieved he hadn't crawled down the A/C vent), and one had live babies.

Gradually, he quit feeling the need to tote them home for a visit, and was content to handle them a little and let them go on their way.  Sometimes just sighting them was enough, and he let them lie.

With his perpetual field guide
He is very, very good at finding snakes.  And also good at identifying them.  When he was about seven years old he would ride in the back of the car with his Field Guide and say, "Mom, quiz me.  You say the common name and I will say the Latin name."

First grade science project

When he found a blind snake in Key Largo, Florida, I told him it was a worm.
"No.  It has scales, see?" He insisted, offering me a closer look at the worm in his grubby hand.
"It's a worm," I insisted.  Except then, the worm flicked it's tongue, which of course, worms do not do.  "It's a blind snake."

When he came to the pool at a vacation condo in South Carolina with a snake that was primarily brilliant red, I was out of the water in a flash repeating to myself, "Red touch black friend of Jack; red touch yellow kill a fellow!  Red touch black--red touch black!"  The snake had a long white belly, but that did not calm my alarm.  "Mom, mom, it's only a scarlet snake.  Isn't it great?  He was just over there near the elevator."
scarlet snake

Well, he is now a twenty-something young man but as his grandpa says, he has not outgrown his "snake-ism."

In his elementary school  Spanish class, he had to design a poster and write a little paper that described a job he might like to do in the future.  I laughed in surprise at his project.  "A Frito salesman?"  I exclaimed.  "I didn't know you wanted to sell Fritos!"  He shrugged, "Well," he explained, "I didn't know how to say 'wildlife photographer' in Spanish."

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