Snake in the Grass

Don't eat me!
Don’t eat me!

Today, we literally found a snake in the grass.  Okay, it was actually in the petunias.  Ruby was gamely dead-heading the spent flowers with me, when suddenly, I caught a movement from the corner of my eye.  I jumped.

It was a blue-striped garter snake, at least a foot long.  It had been lurking in there and was startled by our activity.

“Mom!” Ruby exclaimed.  “Grab it!”

I quickly snatched up the slithering length.  It wriggled in my hands, trying to get free.

I should interject at this point that Ruby is not a girly girl.  She likes bugs – except spiders and earwigs – and has had a couple of pet snakes that met untimely ends.  The one named Emily met her Maker when she escaped from her rickety box and Rex chomped her.  Literally. Oh Emily, we hardly knew ye!

Ruby really wanted to keep it.  But considering her recent track record with caterpillars, centipedes and other invertebrates, I simply couldn’t do it.

“Rubes, you can’t keep it.  It’s a wild snake. It must be free.”

She looked crestfallen.

“Besides, your last several pets died.  This one should get a chance to live. Anyway, there are more in the yard.”  I hoped.

She held her snake for quite awhile.  She carried it around – but not in the house!  We don’t do well with small live non-cats in the house.  The snake, for his part (I get to decide the snake’s gender) peered alertly at everything, tongue flickering inquisitively.  Seemed alright.

I went inside to talk to Zac, recently returned from his trip.  He was finally awake and fed.  We discussed his trip, of which he said:  “I don’t like remembering dead people.”  I’m hoping he got more out of Washington, D.C. than that, but he has a point.

During this period, Ruby let her snake go.  She kissed it goodbye, she said.

“I put it in the bushes, Mom.”  Good girl!  I told her it was the right thing to do.  She leaned her head on my shoulder and I held her for a minute.

Hours later, out of things to do, we went to look for it.  Ruby showed me where she put it.  Of course, being a smart snake, he wasn’t there.  Or anywhere.  He had high-tailed it  out of the area.  We spent a good bit of time looking in the bushes.  Then we collected bugs to bait another snake.  Then we found out they don’t eat bugs at all but tadpoles, goldfish, mealworms and other juicy morsels.  Great.  If only I had a spare goldfish lying around…

The good thing that came out of all this is that Ruby got reacquainted with her friend D. and his brothers.  They walked by while we were grubbing for bugs and we invited them to join us.  Her former protests about D. being a boy gone by the wayside because D. is a good person, fun and kind.  Sometimes, letting the snake go, the shiny, exciting thing, can net you a real friend.  One who doesn’t eat goldfish.


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