Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Can't Swim Here"

Blake and I headed out yesterday afternoon about 4:30. The thermometer read 95.9F. We hit the first garden just as the row of green beans was safely within the boundary of the shade. We picked and weeded and worked up a pretty good sweat. Two rows of okra were waiting to be weeded at our other garden spot, but first we had to cool off. So we rode to the swimming hole just past the garden fence. It's a nice part of the Little Mulberry. Where the creek slows and widens and tall trees stand close to the bank on both sides casting shade and giving it a secluded feeling. The water was perfect. I didn't have the usual cringe when it rose up my body. But it just wasn't deep enough, coming just below my waist. So we started to wade up creek in search for deeper waters.

It is a habit of mine to keep my eyes on the banks while we swim. As a youth and an adult I've swam in waters that creatures call home. And I've seen my share of snakes. I know when the temperature rises and we head to the water to cool off, so do they. As I made another scan of the far bank near a group of roots I noticed one moving. I stood up for a better look. I could see two raised sections of her body behind her proudly raised head. I knew this wasn't the usual water snake we encounter. She was swimming swiftly back and forth out in front of the jumbled roots, protecting her home. Her body was thick and she rode on the water, head held high. She must have decided her presence wasn't threatening enough to deter her intruders because she changed course and turned towards me. That's a scary sight. Standing in high waist water and looking at the head of a snake straight on. Not a standing view from 5 feet, but from maybe 2. Her body flashing on one side and then the other. The lighter under skin of her head and body contrasting against the dark shaded water. Where was Blake you wonder? Between the snake and me. I grabbed his arm and pulled him to the other side of and me. Our closest retreat to land would have had us scrambling up the side of a bushy bank. I made a split second decision not to attempt that and began pushing through the water as fast as I could back down stream and toward where we first entered. As the water shallowed and I was able to move faster I looked back to find our pursuer. She wasn't there. She had gone back to her post and was again swimming back and forth in front of her home. She had succeeded. A momma protecting her home and babies, just like me.

As expected we weren't getting back in the water there. So we went to one of our usual swimming places, where the water is swifter and has frequent visitors.

Then on to garden #2. Art helped us hoe our two rows of okra. We worked up another good sweat. We stopped in the creek again on our way home to rinse off.

After talking with my brother and doing a little research on snakes, I confirmed my origianl identification of our snake. A water moccasin. They ride high in the water and are known to stand their ground.

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