Friday, April 21, 2006

The Hills are Alive

They really are alive...they're crawling and wriggling with critters right now. Not only the hills but inside my house, too. This morning my cleaning ladies were working their magic in the living room while I was making us all a cup of coffee in the kitchen. Rosario ran towards me in an agitated way, tripping over her words but making her point known which was there was an animal in the living room. I eyed the kitchen chairs, assuming there was a rat (at the very least) and I'm all about putting some distance between me and any rodent that chooses my house as temporary lodging. Well, it wasn't a rodent; it was a small wren, perched delicately on my decorated twisted willow branches. DID I GRAB MY CAMERA and snap away? Of course not. Damnit. I did not. Leslie, Rosario's cousin, quietly approached it from the back, cupping her hands gently around it and calmly walked outside, where she released it to the wilds of my garden.

So, here are the birdless branches, minutes after the bird was removed. I'm still smacking myself over what could have been a really good pictures.

I'm still happy it wasn't a rat. We have rats at this time of the year. They're under the house where the tools are stored. Under cover, but not in the basement, proper. My husband calls them wood rats. They are a bit Wind in the Willowie in that they almost seem to smile at you as they dart by but I'm completely discombobulated by them. I can't stand the surprise, gotcha, nature of rodents. But the wren in the twisted willow pales in comparison to what I saw this afternoon and it wasn't a rat.

I decided to take a nap in the little guest cottage. It's always comfortable, but never more so than when the day is slightly cool and the sun warm and strong. Today was such a day. I made my way down to the cottage, turning round to admire the recently 'filled-in' steps. Pavers and railroad ties make up the stairs and winter rains had washed soil from between the pavers. This past week all the gaps had been filled in, making one feel more sure-footed on the descent. So, admiring the newly firmed footholds my eyes were drawn to the second to bottom step. The step I'd just trod on, the step with a three-foot RATTLESNAKE on it.

Can you see it...look carefully, on the right. A rattler. And I almost stepped on it. Shit. It had obviously just crawled out from some chilly undergrowth and was searching for some warmth. Luckily, it was still a slow mover. I took the other stairs back up to the house and got Himself who was on the phone with his sister in Wales. I mouthed, "IT'S IMPORTANT! IT'S A RATTLER!" We both ran back down so I could show him what had almost killed me. We both determined that it should be moved, back up into the canyon, away from homes and humans and we did try to get him in big plastic rubbish bin but he rattled furiously and slithered away. Freaky fast and then he was under a rock. Himself kept an eye on him while I dialed 911. They put me on to the local Topanga Fire Department and they dispatched a pair of firefighters to, I presumed, move this rattler, perhaps to Topanga State Park.

But no, they didn't come to move it, they came to kill it. And I felt like shit because they killed a creature that has more claim to this land than I. Sure, I rationalize it. Little kids play here. Rattlers are beyond dangerous. But I still don't feel good about today.
Tomorrow we're going to buy this grabbing device that will allow us to capture, contain and move any future snakes that choose to visit.


Blogger granny p said...

One advantage of this place - NO SNAKES..I know what you mean; they are fabulous creatures - but a rattler in my garden? - no thanks. (And be careful with grabbers. The darn things can still twist round and bite..) And Lin - I never said thanks for the Easter card. It was great.

1:45 AM  
Blogger junebee said...

Oh, the snake would have killed you the first chance it got. Don't feel the least bit guilty about it. That's why remorseless people are called "cold-blooded". Because they're like snakes...

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Jenijen said...

You know, more than once I've been on the phone with John while he's at work and he's had to hang up to go relocate a rattlesnake away from science camp. Maybe this year WHEN WE COME VISIT (whoohoo) he could give you the rattler 101. Me? I'm scared to death of them. . .

12:31 AM  
Blogger GraceD said...

My dollin' Lin, allow me please to take some of your bandwidth for this primal scream:


Plus, you didn't get to nap!


11:14 AM  
Anonymous jvodlm5362 said...

Hi about the snake deal sweetie i know how you feel about this but it was best for them to kill the snake and where there is one there is another trust me i've been there myself and if you do get something to grab them for gods sake make sure you have the closed tight and pat the snake in tightly closed bucket with SMALL holes in the top and cover with a bag and tie it up then take to where you want to let it out and just take a stick ,turn bucket over and back up the snake will move way for you because it will be so scared and what to just find a safe place to hide. I hope you'll do run into this type of problem again but if you have woods and lplaces that are not in the sun all day well the snakes will want to come and cool off as you know and just lie in the cool steps just as you found this one sunning . if you would like you can e-mail me sometime and maybe we can chat if you like plz. e-mail is, or hope to hear from you soon tc......................John

11:48 AM  

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