Friday, July 31, 2015

serpent of summer

A couple of days ago when walking along one of the more hidden paths in Point Pleasant Park we found a little guy who looked something like this. Actually, he looked a lot like this. Isn't he beautiful? Definitely a garter snake, but a smallish one, probably only very recently born, he was in a wooded area where  moss, granite outcrops, surface roots and pine needles were lit by dappled sunlight. As I walked between two closely spaced trees I could easily have stepped on him if it weren't that his surprised stare stopped me in my tracks. Yes, he was looking at me with what appeared to be a shocked expression but it may be they always look shocked - at least until they react. Neither of us had seen a snake in the park before so we knelt down and all three of us looked each other over. After a few minutes he gave a snakely shrug and slithered sedately over a root and into a hollow at the base of the tree. We watched him curl into the space and then continued our walk. Next up was the frog chorus among the lily pads of the old quarry pond. You'd never guess a simple walk could be so entertaining, would you?

While I hate snagging internet pictures the problem now is I seem to be in the midst of an unexpected, and entirely unplanned, drawing and painting hiatus this summer. Okay, I could have drawn a snake - it's not like that would be very complicated, is it? Anyhow, I felt like telling the story without going to my drawing table first. I hope you don't mind and I hope the anonymous snake photographer won't mind either. I'm sure the snake won't care.

Meanwhile, I did find a wonderful article called 'Web Design: The First 100 Years'. If you take a peek the mid-90s layout style is a design statement. This is a great talk, well worth reading, especially if you're curious about why the gazillionaires who run Silicon Valley are bonkers.

Quote of the week:
 “The real problem of humanity is the following: we have paleolithic emotions; medieval institutions; and god-like technology. And it is terrifically dangerous, and it is now approaching a point of crisis overall.”
~ E.O. Wilson


Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan
Sounds like a very rewarding and enjoyable walk. It’s not often you come across snake!!
I enjoyed the post, quote and the reference particularly. A good read and it reminded me of a conference I attended in England in 1984 where the US reps flew across at supersonic speed on the Concorde. We all stayed up half the night watching clips of attempts at the world speed record, which was then being sponsored by the company. The idea of trips to the moon seemed feasible in the in too distant future and it was concluded everything was going to speed up enormously!!
Yet at that time consolidated accounts and reports were able to be electronically transferred to the UK from Australia within 3-4 day of the close off of the previous month end without a hitch, using the old dial up facility.
Best wishes

troutbirder said...

The problem with garter snakes here was our mischievous boys would catch them and place them near the clothes line where there mom was sure to see them. That a wonderful quote

Tom said...

I like snakes, but only when there is a reinforced, impenetrable barrier between them and me, and a lot of ocean as a back-up. No, actually I don't mind them. The real problem is a lack of knowledge as to their danger level, particularly as far as pets are concerned. I understand garter snakes have venom but cannot inflict harm on humans. I see that among their various prey they like leeches, slugs, toads and rodents. If I were of a judgemental frame of mind, I might think my two previous sentences were mutually contradictory. As I'm not, they're not. I think I'll go and have a rest now!

Should Fish More said...

The metaphor 'snake in the grass' was first noted in 37 BCE by the Roman Virgil, and was later the title of a book in 1696 by a British author.
Beyond that I have little experience with our slithering friends.

susan said...

Hi Lindsay
So long as the weather is reasonable our walks are always enjoyable, but it's always an extra treat to find something so unexpected as a garter snake.
I'm very glad you enjoyed the article about how the hype surrounding modern technology disregards its limits. The writer was also very amusing in his assessment. I can just imagine that conference you attended in 1984. In some ways it doesn't seem that long ago but in others it's an eternity.
All the best

susan said...

Ah yes, boys will be boys, won't they? I've never suffered from a general fear of reptiles but of course I've never lived in a neighborhood known for rattlesnakes either.

Yes, the quote was apt.

susan said...

Growing up in the southern Ontario countryside snakes, frogs and toads were part of the regular fauna and I caught my share. I never tried to keep one, though, as it was more the fun of the chase for most of us. Garter snakes are known as gardeners friends in these parts, unlike boa constrictors, mambas, rattlesnakes, vipers and cobras etc. that give all sensible people pause. There's no contradiction in that, Tom. :)

susan said...

Considering where you live, Mike, it's just as well you have no deeper experience of snakes than the literary. The reality could be dangerously painful.

Should Fish More said...

Oh, I've seen my share of the rivers of Montana they are often sighted. However, I give them their space, and they never fail to writhe off to other areas.

susan said...

Knowing your penchant for being an avid outdoorsman I was surprised you'd said you had little experience of snakes. Now I understand. I'd keep my distance too.

marja-leena said...

Good thing it was a friendly garter snake and not an aggressive poisonous one! I think not knowing which it is sometimes strikes fear in us.

Ah, yes, the dreaded summer hiatus of our creativity. I blame the hot weather out here in the rainforest. Now we can only water our gardens by hand, can you imagine doing that in the heat!

Thanks for the trips down memory lane, good to be reminded of all the things we take for granted that were not there that long ago!

May your creative bug return in full strength soon, Susan!

susan said...

It's just as well to be wary of them as you say, Marja-Leena. Mostly that would be for their sake rather than ours since the poor things have suffered at the hands, feet and cars of people. Many gardeners welcome garter snakes because they do eat slugs and other plant destroying pests.

No, I can't imagine watering an entire garden by hand. One pot of cherry tomatoes and a marigold are enough for me. You have my very good wishes that rain clouds darken your skies soon. The fires we've seen reported are hellacious.

I'm glad you enjoyed the article I linked to. It's good to remember that many of the changes we've experienced are cosmetic rather than beneficial.

I'll be looking forward to seeing the results of your cool weather creativity too, my friend.

Rob-bear said...

Glad you didn't go "snaky" on account of your encounter. Garter Snakes are, I think, quite harmless; I've never hear of anyone being killed by one.

I'm also glad you've got such a wonderful place to wander.

Now, do you expect to see a Bear? I hope so, and I hope he's as friendly as the Snake. In your area, he or she would be a Black Bear, unlike the majestic (and much better behaved) Brown Bears of the west.

Blessings and Bear hugs!

susan said...

I remember spending part of at least one summer catching garter snakes and letting them go. Then somebody told me about the Missisauga rattlesnake after which I never caught another snake.

Yes, it really is a very lovely park - but, like many places in Canada, very stark in winter.

While I have heard of people seeing Black Bears in the countryside, I'm quite sure there are none in our south end of the city park. One rather mad lady we've talked to there a few times is convinced there are raccoons. We don't believe her.

Best wishes, Rob.