Monday, August 13, 2012
The snake in the tree
A few weeks back we were clearing out the tangle of deadfalls and standing dead locusts and rotting logs from the East 40 -- maybe an acre or two of dense woodland ringed by briars and held together by some tough old laurels and rhododendrons. We had cut and stacked most of the locust for firewood, and hauled five or six trailer loads of hawthorne, greenbriar and moldy half-gone limbs and punky trunks down to the burn pile in the bottom. I was bringing the tractor in with a chipper-shredder attached to get the last of the green limbs when I spotted a six or seven-foot vine that seemed darker than the others we had cut.
Then I saw why. As I pulled by that limb, it began to slither. It was black, with just a suggestion of a light yellow underside, almost a racing stripe at first glance, and it was gorgeous. Never mind that I'm so respectful of snakes that I normally go the other direction. A friend of ours, Boyd Allred, used to say, "I'm afraid of only four kinds of snakes: Little snakes, big snakes, live snakes and dead snakes." That pretty much summed up my attitude.