Monday, May 28, 2012

Saving the Snake

Before I was bound to earth, I was a creator. The animals I created are some of the most misunderstood and reviled by humans -- snakes, gators, snapping turtles, mosquitoes the size of hummingbirds. But to me, each creature is beautiful. Each one deserves a chance to thrive.

It made me happy to see that the two humans who are writing our stories can see the beauty of my creatures and will take the time to help one survive. I want to tell you that story.

A few days ago, Rachelle went out to her garden to pick peas for dinner. She had taken some tips from Toledo and built her garden the way Sassafras Cats would have -- tomatoes intermingled with peppers, petunias, basil. She breathed in the fragrance, thinking about how lucky they were to have such a garden.

Peas climbed high on a trellis. As Rachelle reached for a clump of peas, she noticed the long black tail of a black snake. She looked around and saw the snake's bright eyes on the other side of the trellis. On closer inspection, she realized the snake was trapped in the plastic weave and went to get John to help her.

They worked together. John held the snake's head with an old mop handle. Rachelle tried to cut away the netting with pruning shears. Their dogs -- Bilbo, Max, and Hooch -- tried to help. The snake panicked and they had to take a break.

After dinner, they went back out. It was dark. John has cat-eyes and can see in the dark just fine. Rachelle cannot. Nevertheless, Rachelle snipped netting and John thought the snake was free. He let up the handle and saw its head slither off. "We did it!" He started back toward the house.

Just then, their cat Savage moved toward the snake and then jumped back. "She's still there!" Rachelle yelled for John. "Savage spooked her."

"Where's Savage now?" John asked.

"She ran off in the woods. She might have been bit. Good thing it's a black snake, not a copper head." Rachelle walked up to the house. "Well, if the snake isn't free, we'll have to wait until morning. I can't see well enough to cut any more out. Besides the snake is nervous now."

The next morning, the snake was still there, along with a smaller black snake. The small snake slithered away. The big snake remained trapped. She wasn't frightened though. The spiders must have whispered to her -- told her that Rachelle and John were trying to help her. Once again, John held her head with the mop handle. Rachelle took out manicure scissors and cut away carefully. The netting had cut into the snake's flesh -- not deep, but enough that it was difficult to slide the scissors under the plastic. Snip...snip. The snake remained calm. At last, the netting was gone. John let up the mop handle. The snake didn't move. John tapped her a little to coax her on her way. She slithered through the garden and into the woods. Free.

Rachelle tied up the trellis as well as she could to allow snakes that might pass by in the future to pass under it, instead of getting tangled. "You don't think about these things until you look at life from a snake's point of view," she told me. "Otherwise I wouldn't have used that netting."

"I made the snake pretty single minded," I told her. "Most likely she was chasing prey and didn't even see the netting until it caught her. At least you freed her. Most humans would have left her to die or smashed her skull in."

Have you helped one of my creatures? Share your story here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Remembering Mama's Garden

Toledo Cats
My favorite part of springtime is getting down and dirty. I mean kneeling in the dirt, working compost into the soil, planting seeds, and nurturing my plants. It wouldn't be May if I didn't have dirt under my nails and mud on my knees. Mama was the same way.

I miss those days of working shoulder to shoulder with my mama, pulling weeds and listening to the fairies chatter away. Mama could hear them too, although she never let on. She just sang softly to herself, every now and then pausing to tell me the name of an herb and what it's used for.

We had every kind of herb in our garden, growing stem to stem with flowers, fruits and vegetables. Not each item in a row, but all mixed up together. A symphony of colors and fragrance. That's one of the reasons kneeling down was so much fun. As we crawled along, pulling weeds and smashing unwanted insects, the scent of basil, garlic, petunia, rosemary, chives, roses, onion, fennel, lavender wafted up around us, changing as we made our way around the courtyard.

Of course we left some weeds alone. Some weeds like the dandelion can be useful. Even stinging nettle has its place. But there's a reason people say "She's growing like a weed." Weeds grow faster than any other plant, so we had to thin them out to leave room for the other plants to grow.

Just like I thin them out now -- working side-by-side with Mama. Sure, we never put our hand down on the same weed like we used to long ago. But she's with me, still telling me which weeds to pull and which to leave alone, still whispering little known facts about this herb or that one, still singing softly to herself, accompanied by the fairies. This is a Blog Hop! Make sure to visit our fellow bloggers

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Turtle migrations

Spring is a time of awakening, even for an ancient gator like me. I rise from the swamp and feel the sun warm my back. I crawl onto the shore and taste the breeze. Honeysuckle, wild rose, and iris sweeten the musty air. I suck it in -- the first taste of summer.

Nearby I notice a box turtle crawling down the hill. At first, I think it's Misha, but then I see many more behind it. The first wave of their migration. They have dug themselves out from their winter cover of rotting leaves and begun their journey to the cooler swamp, where they will spend their summer. It's nice to have the visitors.

Misha, in her turtle form, will greet them as they come, listen to their harrowing tales of crushing motorized monsters, bearing down on them as they meander the path their ancestors have traveled since long before these monsters roamed the earth. Metal coffins, Swampy called them, and he was right about that. But these days, they are everywhere...even here in the swamp. Misha weeps each time she hears that a turtle friend of hers was run down on his journey. I weep too. They are my creatures, after all. I created them as a gift for Faunus because he had admired my snapping turtles. But I thought it would be nice to see them now and then, so I gave them an instinct to find home. And the swamp is their home, and so they come, they mingle, they breed. Each autumn they go to Faunus; each spring they return to me.

So be cautious in your motorized monsters. I gave my box turtles hard shells, but they are fragile and shy. If you see one in the road, stop and pick it up. Move it gently out of harms way so it can continue on its journey home.