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The Whitehurst Diaries: Encounter with a snake
Click headline for story with photos of the green snake
By Sharon Whitehurst
I have been known life-long for my horror of snakes. When one crosses my path, I instantly screech loudly and levitate.
The presence of a certain shaped stick on the trail or the shuffling of dry leaves in the woods, a length of faded baler twine flung onto the verge of the roadside--all these are apt to provoke the same reaction of shuddering distaste.
I mentioned this once to an elderly friend who nodded sagely and remarked, "We are daughters of Eve, and the remembrance of the serpent lingers."
Trudging up the lane this noon, an over-filled bowl of strawberries clutched in sticky paws, I scanned the shrubbery along the fence line, wondering if I would again see the Brown Thrashers who have been busily building their nests amongst the willows.
It was a surprise to note the length of supple green draped horizontally on a section of the wire.
I knew that it was a snake.
Strangely, its presence a few feet away didn't inspire me to scream, spill the berries, and take flight. As I watched, the snake moved slowly, gliding toward a clump of blackberry bushes.
At the house Jim was unloading the colanders and bowls full of strawberries which he had carefully conveyed on the 4-wheeler.
'There's a strange snake down the lane, " I announced.
"What kind of a snake? What color?"
"Bright green," I replied, heading inside for my camera. "I think you should have a look."
We headed back down the lane on the 4-wheeler. I directed Jim to stop a few yards behind where the snake had been.
At first I thought it had departed, then we spied it resting gracefully beyond the next fence post. At the last minute my deeply ingrained wariness of all serpent-kind revived and I thrust my camera into Jim's hand.
The slender green snake was cooperative. My camera operates differently from Jim's and the green creature waited patiently, seeming undisturbed by our proximity, while Jim fiddled with buttons and I coached from a comfortable distance.
The snake slid along the fence, wound downward through the brambles, poked its head out inquiringly when Jim gently waved his cap a few inches away.
My tentative identification was smooth green snake [Opheodrys Vernalis] --although I went on to read about its 'cousin' the rough green snake [Opheodrys Aestivus.] The differentiating factor is 'keeled dorsal scales' on the rough green snake. Our neighbor, Jay Rose, assured me that the rough green is a local species.
The description of 'keeled scales' stayed with me as we hulled, sliced and packaged 18 quarts of strawberries for the freezer.
With the berries tidied away, I braced myself to endure a close up photo online of a serpent with keeled scales--scales with a distinctive ridge down the center.
Zooming in on my photos in Picasa, I determined that our resident snake does indeed wear keeled scales.
I'm under no illusion that this interesting encounter will alter my reaction to snakes in general. I will continue to leave the room if one shows up on the TV screen. I will surely yelp and jump if I even imagine one is lurking in my path. I will be reluctant to harvest the blackberries when they ripen knowing that our rough green snake has laid claim to the fence along the lane.
This story was posted on 2015-05-19 08:54:10
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