Meanwhile, Somewhere Near the Continental Divide

Just now I looked up from my typing to see the wild turkey family jerk-step across my yard, halfway up the hill. The mother leading, followed by a new brood of young on wobbly stilt-legs, and a couple of dispensible males behind. My camera was in the car and of course they were gone by the time I had it in hand.

A few days ago, before my recent overnight trip to Santa Fe, I looked out the side window to see a breath-takingly beautiful snake cross the yard and disappear into the wild oats beyond. Sharp, clear concentric colorful stripes. Not a rattlesnake, obviously, but I rushed out into the yard nevertheless to get a good look at its tail, and to make sure the stripes were not red, white and black – so it was gone before I could get a picture. Fast. Big. I think it was a King Snake. Maybe. It’s amazing how many and various are the snakes. I have two inadequate snake books and it seems that all the species have multi-various color phases and patterns. Actually our one resident snake (one that I know of, living under the morning porch of the cabin where there was a rattlesnake last year), we have coffee every morning while it appears with the sunrise and moves on to its daily chores under the cabin, even that one snake – I think it’s one snake – seems to be of different color and pattern under different conditions. I think it’s a garter snake maybe.

Bitsy barks at rattlesnakes, and backs them into corners. These snakes don’t back up like a rattlesnake. They run. So far this year we only have killed one rattlesnake in the yard. Last year we had to do away with six, one of which was heartbreakingly lovely. Like the pink rattlesnakes in Tony Hillerman’s novels.

Anyhow, we are trying to encourage the non-venomous snakes to stick around and eat the mice and rats. Better to have a colony of garter snakes than the alternative residents. And we do have a few remaining Peromyscus (which may or may not carry Hanta virus and/or plague). I hope no more pack rats. I’m trying to concrete up the major entries from outside the cabin, now that I’ve discouraged those that lived inside, and hoping to ease out those in the outbuildings while preferably demolishing the Assasin Bugs that live in those nests. That may or may not carry Chagas disease.

No pictures. All the best pictures get away, either because they happen too fast or because I am too busy thinking self-defense. Except for the mountains that stand forever – at least in human time.140630-canyon-asc_9799RLSss

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