Reptiles


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Sometimes, in spring,
chelonian patience rewards a soft gaze

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as when a passing cloud unveils
the hidden carapace of an ancient turtle

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that smartly recedes from any hint of a chase.

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But then in fall, over twenty yards from the water,
a recently hatched snapper

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pauses perilously at noon
underfoot on the lawn
for any to see

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before proceeding at dusk, toward the brush and the trees,
and a home in the creek.

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Basking in the sun, on a slope by the creek, after meals —

not a word between us.

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Under the deer-diminished jewelweed
 
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a northern water snake

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  waits patiently for all to pass.

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Before my bumbling upset its coil, this northern water snake basked in the hilltop sun.

100_5182edcropAHere it paused in flight beside my shadow. 

Then, fully straightening like a two-and-a-half foot arrow, the serpent slung itself straight down the slope.

Notice the fading pattern, especially along the bottom.  Younger snakes are more colorfully distinct.  Older designs increasingly fade to gray and black.

A friend tells of meeting a four-and-a-half foot beauty sunning black scales on the concrete footbridge behind Ridley High School.  Like mine, his startled serpent slung a straightened self through six feet of air toward the weedy creek.

From a distance, I’ve seen a couple other blackened northern water snakes more serenely sharing a sun-soaked rock mid-stream of their swims in Little Crum Creek.

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There is no mistaking the sound of a snake slithering over dry leaves.

The sound will find sight pretty quickly to prevent a tread on an often overlooked Eastern Garter.

Here, one slipped quickly beneath a web of linked fence lining lawn and wilderness.

The snake and I paused in appreciation.

It then removed to a pile of grass clippings and leaves at the base of a pine.

In time, satisfactorily sensing the situation with a peeping head and tongue, the snake proceeded to carry our sunny encounter over a shadowy earth.

The hill is well-suited for feeding on salamander and worm.

There’s a lot of sun above and water below.

I fully expect to see a garter’s return.
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