Cat tails grew along the ditches on the long drive home from Billings, MT to Denver and my mother would invariably make my dad stop the car so she could cut some to make a bouquet at home. It was a little bit of an expedition that involved “You kids stay in the car. There are snakes.” She used a long handled dandelion digger as a snake stick with the idea that the sharp little “V” in front could go over the snake’s neck.
At this point in my life, having had a lot of exposure to snakes of different kinds and having had a couple as “pets” I’m pretty skeptical about that dandelion digger. That little “V” would have done OK on a stunned and skinny garter snake but anything bigger? I think the snake would have laughed. Among other things, the snake would have had to hold still for my mom to complete her operation.
Still, the dandelion digger was useful as a stick to move the snake out of the way and move the brush away so she could see where she was going. AND my mom gave me sterling advice for hiking in rattlesnake country. Pound the ground so the snakes know you’re there. There is no better warning system for these beings who don’t want to meet up with us, either.
Now, of course, I’m not running up and down narrow trails in snake country. I miss the hills and definitely miss running, but otherwise? It’s nice to be able to see where I’m going.
Cattails are a wetland plant, so they are a big part of my world now. As the dogs and I walk along the ponds out at the Refuge I think often of how the early humans living here used the cattails for baskets and sandals and who knows what other things. The only snakes I’ve seen out there (so far) are skinny little garter snakes, most of which have been run over. I’m sure there are other guys out there but it’s OK with me if I — well this one is tough. A rattlesnake you see is far less dangerous than one you don’t.
It’s lovely to watch a blackbird — red-winged or yellow-headed — perched on a narrow reed, windsurfing and calling out.