In preparation for this past week's round of severe weather here in Maryland, I went out on the elevated deck, stowed some furniture, dismantled the gas grill, turned it on its side to keep it low and lessen the tendency to blow around, and stowed all the bits and pieces inside. Though many areas of Maryland had weather issues, fortunately things were ok here - well, except for some heavy rain.
So, yesterday's project was to upright and reassemble the grill.
Much to my surprise, when I opened the top of the grill after putting it back upright, guess what was lurking inside? A coiled-up, and turned-topsy-turvy (translation: rather uncomfortable-looking) 4-foot-long black snake, complete with beady, piercing eyes looking my way! He was as genuinely surprised to see me, as I was to see him. Needless to say, I had to figure out how to peaceably evict him and send him on his way. I wouldn't hurt him, as black snakes keep rodents under control. And that's a good thing, out here in the sticks, where I live.
With a goodly supply of mothballs and a lot of loud noise (yes, I admit, even a few four-letter words), I convinced him to start moving under his own power. He slowly ambled out of the grill and dropped to the deck, then slithered away from me till about a third of his length was out over the edge of the deck (12 ft in the air, mind you). At that point, just like Wile E Coyote in one of the many the Road Runner cartoons http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYcARiVEe1U, he learned about the effect of Newton's law of gravity. PLOP! Down he went, into a big black lump on the grass 12' below the deck... From where I stood, this definitely was hilarious, but he most likely failed to see any humor whatsoever in it.
Surviving the fall, and now out of imminent danger, the snake skulked off into the woods behind the house. What ever possessed him to climb 12 feet up on the deck in the first place is beyond me, but I'm glad he's relocated now. He can live very comfortably in the forest right beside/behind the house...it's very close...as you can see from the following sunrise picture - less than 20 feet. And black snakes have been said to be better mousers than a cat.
A snake's paradise - just a few feet behind the house! Taken from the deck.
A year ago, I recall chasing away what might have been his father - a 6 foot long black snake, twice his diameter - which liked to call my front entry a suitable sunning spot. That made him the official "welcoming committee" for any summer guests - I'll never know how many folks turned around and left after seeing this happily sunning itself by the front door...
My welcoming committee of one...
I excavated and filled in some big voids under the driveway and sidewalk, one of which may have been its den, since it contained unidentified rubbery eggs. Then I surrounded the house (and saturated the area) with mothballs. Within two weeks, there was no more evidence of the snake or its family. But, as if to take its place, a family of field mice set up housekeeping in the garage. It took till late last fall (and a lot of mousetraps baited with peanut butter) to finally eradicate them. As their numbers thinned, I'll never know if perhaps "son of black snake" was helping chase them away, and I didn't even know it.
Needless to say, I plan to get some kind of a cot or lounge chair before going back out. No more "on the deck" sunning sessions for this girl. I don't need surprised with a snake head popping up through gaps in the deck floor, right in front of my nose While snakes don't particularly scare me, that would be quite unsettling, for both the snake and me!
My Sunbathing Outfit
Today's project was to stop by my friendly local auto parts store to get some replacement wiper blades for my car.
The male clerk "miss-identified me," which always makes my day. I had grabbed the wrong blades off the shelf, so he went back to select the right ones. Secretly not wanting to damage my nails, at check out, I asked if he'd put them on my car. "Sure will, Miss. It's something we always do for the ladies." After he finished, I thanked him profusely for saving my nails, and assured him that I'll now be one of their customers. He blushed and said "Thanks, Miss...you women always have such beautiful hands and nails, and we want to help them stay that way."
A wonderful gesture....and so do I!
Though summer is still officially not quite here yet, following is a local early September scene...sunflower fields, typically planted after the wheat harvest. This was taken several years ago in the hills north of Baltimore, with thoughts of the forthcoming Autumn in mind.
September Maryland Sunflowers