Rat Snake

December 4, 2012 

It is so warm that the snakes and skinks have come out of hibernation. Yesterday, just outside a hiking trail that crisscrosses a bluff, I drove around a wide curve on a rural road and came upon a huge black rat snake, looking like a piece of black hose stretched straight. It was sunning itself on the warm asphalt and wasn’t going to move. I stopped and got out. The snake, grooving on the heated surface, didn’t glance back.

Rat snakes are the least temperamental of snakes—unless you’re a bird. Someone was going to run it over—indeed, six cars pulled up from both directions and patiently waited for me—so I gathered it up, five pounds and seven feet of it, and it coiled around my left arm, the black-scaled beauty, and I carried it across the road.

The traffic resumed. The snake raised its head and flicked its tongue toward my face.  O friends who fear reptiles: May you meet with a rat snake, entwine with an obsidian-colored rat snake and feel your blood pressure lower, feel your aches and pains dissolve by reptilian muscles stronger by far than hands.

Reluctantly, I unraveled the beast and watched it glide languidly into the woods.  My arm muscles had been massaged by a living, rippling bracelet.

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