River talk

Considering the snake

By SANDY LONG
Posted 12/8/21

Finding a dead snake along the side of the road is unfortunately a fairly common occurrence as these regional reptiles attempt to navigate across our roadways. And while some of us might feel that …

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River talk

Considering the snake

Posted

Finding a dead snake along the side of the road is unfortunately a fairly common occurrence as these regional reptiles attempt to navigate across our roadways. And while some of us might feel that the only good snake is a dead one, I (and many others) would heartily encourage reconsideration.

Fear of snakes sometimes leads to intentional harm. Taking a closer look and learning more about this important animal can shift one’s perspective in the direction of appreciation for the roles they play in this interdependent life we share.

The snake captured through the circular portal of my smartphone’s closeup lens was an Eastern garter snake. It was most likely headed toward the boggy lake where it might have secured sustenance in the form of a small amphibian or earthworm. This snake is able to tolerate colder temperatures than others, and often emerges earlier in the spring and hibernates later in fall than other species.

Like all animals, snakes serve vital roles as integral components of complex ecosystems.

In this excerpt from “The Snakes of September,” Stanley Kunitz, who has received nearly every honor bestowed upon a poet in this country, reflects on his encounter with two snakes that visited his garden in late September:

“I put out my hand and stroke

the fine, dry grit of their skins.

After all,

we are partners in this land,

co-signers of a covenant.

At my touch the wild

braid of creation

trembles.”

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