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.