WARNING: If you have a fear of snakes, or just plain don’t want to read about them, then check back in a day or two.
I often kid myself into thinking that I (as opposed to most other humans) live in as much harmony with nature as I possibly can. This of course is a massive self-delusion. I am human, therefore, my lifestyle-slash-existence is the least harmonious with nature than any other creature’s on this planet. It is true I may cultivate some natural, non-human things, but my preferred “nature” is a list of maybe 200 plants and five animal species that I brought here myself. All other things are either in my way (weeds, hawks, voles, raccoons and opossums) or tolerated (sparrows, deer) or welcome (all other birds, most other mammals). Snakes are in the “welcome” category.
I first saw a snake on the property by first seeing a snake skin, shed a few feet away from a compost pile, a few years back. It was a big skin. Cool, I thought: a snake will keep the vole population in check. I of course never put two and two together and thought the skin’s proximity had anything to do with the compost pile. Ahem. A blue racer (about 5′ long) was living in the pile, and when I turned the pile I found him/her and screamed like the girl that I am.
Fast-forward to last year. I found another snake, this time a dead one: another blue racer. It had tangled itself in the deer netting that I had erected as chicken-proof fencing around the greenhouse beds. I felt awful.
Okay, now this year. Mother’s Day around here is Leave El Alone All Day To Garden Day. It was to rain all day but hey, that’s alright. I have a greenhouse to garden. So I armed myself with a shovel and some task buckets (I planned on evicting the herb garden along the back wall) and set to work. I moved first to the far corner of the greenhouse to begin the chores and…caught in that same deer netting, which until now, was used to deter voles, was A WHOLE BUNCH of snakes.
I did not scream. The small part of my brain, the residual prey-animal part, was definitely spooked though. I sighed deeply, then went inside to tell Tom about it, and convey how awful I felt. Because I did feel awful: no, I did not foresee that snakes could get into the greenhouse; it’s pretty well sealed against voles. But, in the back of my mind, I knew (like finding the skin near the compost pile) that it was a possibility, and that that netting, if it was doing any good at all against voles, was potentially harmful to snakes.
Three blue racers were trapped in it. Agh: not only did I kill three animals in their prime, I probably killed off another generation. What little I know about snakes is that spring is mating season and snakes, being solitary creatures, are never near each other except for this important purpose. So I clipped the deer netting in the area before and after the snakes and then proceeded to go outside with it but ONE WAS MOVING!!
Okay, I placed the mess outside and then went back inside the greenhouse and sat down for a bit. I need to get that live one out of there, I thought. So I took a few breaths, grabbed a pair of garden scissors, and went to work. Trouble is, I’d no sooner free the guy he’d try to crawl back through the netting, so…I had to hold his head to free him. I had to completely be in My Happy Place in my head to do this, too.
I felt a little better afterward. I felt even better after I took a hot shower.