For the last 4 years or so, I’ve had what are starting to feel like ritual encounters with a garter snake that resides in a culvert at the end of my driveway. Almost every time I cut my grass, he’s lounging around the same opening. Around the middle of June, he leaves a memento in the form of a complete shedding of his outer skin.
At first, I was surprised by him. Then, I gradually came to expect him and keep an eye out so I didn’t run over him inadvertently with the mower. I’m probably romanticizing it, but I think he’s grown to understand I mean him no harm.
Throughout our “relationship”, I’ve wondered why he stays in the same spot year after year, I mean, it’s not as if there aren’t plenty of seemingly more hospitable places for snakes in the vicinity, free from the interference of man (like me), and mowers. Lynne, one of my neighbours, recently told me a story that suggests snakes, perhaps like all God’s critters, have a definite sense of place:
She noticed a snake in her garden with a tip missing from its tail. It was around all the time and she didn’t like it because she’s deathly afraid of snakes, even harmless garter snakes. When he niece came for a visit, she asked her to capture and get rid of it, but not kill it. The niece, being a brave type, snatched it by hand, put it in a bag and drove it a couple of blocks away for release.
A couple of days later, “Stumpy”, as Lynne has grown to call him, was back in his usual spot in her garden. She’s accepted it was probably just meant to be. I guess critters as lowly as snakes have a definite sense of places where they feel they “belong”.