Snake in the grass

Silly woman! She thinks I need her to be able to put my thoughts on paper.

Hardly. Ever known a retriever who couldn’t express himself? And plainly on paper as well.

She’s off shrieking because there’s a mouse loose in the house. Silly woman, I tell you. The poor little thing’s half the size of one of my bones (and you know I’m not talking about an all-nighter here) and scared to death. Now she’s poking it and chasing it (as if anyone could catch a mouse). I was afraid she’d hurt it but it’s OK. And free as any self-respecting mouse should be.

(The house is cleaned up for the company expected in just a few hours. I’ll try to talk to the little one, to convince her to stay out of sight for that’s what people want, a mouse-free house. At least not to invite the entire clan in until after the grownups go.)

But I didn’t want to tell you about mice.

It’s snakes. Now talk about fast! You know, come to think of it, I’d like to see a race between a snake and a mouse. Hmmmmm . . . .

But I’m rambling again, aren’t I?

“The rambling retriever.” Sounds good. Maybe they’ll give me my own column. Yes, indeedy, a lovely … oh, yes, snakes.

There are days she stays indoors puttering, I’ve heard her call it though, honestly, I’ve never seen the putter. Anyway, some of those times I’m able to go out when the men mow the lawn. They see snakes. Plenty of snakes. They don’t bother the snakes (unless they happen to accidentally get run over). So I don’t bother them nor they me. And they aren’t half as noisy as those squawky birds at the feeder hour after hour either.

Anyway, I do know what a snake is.

I guess she didn’t for one day she went out to weed and almost stepped on one though, believe me, it was going as fast as a snake could go to not only get out of her way but out of her sight as well.

Talk about a major shriek! Thank God, the mouse didn’t elicit anything like that. And move! For a senior citizen who complains she’s slowing down, she jumped onto the porch faster than I gave any human credit for being able to move.

And me? Why I jumped right up there with her. Figure she might know something I didn’t.

Well, that was last year.

She’s calmed down again (at least until the aforementioned mouse incident). I’ve caught her looking carefully but she’s back to weeding in the same places and the snake we presume has gone someplace else.

Still, one can’t be too sure, can one? In the meantime, I’ll just lie up here, up here on the porch, where I can keep a watchful eye on the scene.

Yup. One simply cannot be too careful.

All right, dog. I get to tell my side of the story too.

Truth be told, I didn’t expect to see the snake again. I certainly didn’t expect to see it in almost exactly the same place as last year. (That could temper my enthusiasm for diving into the myrtle to weed.)

Still, snake it was.

Fascinated, this time I stood and watched. Apparently my reaction was not what the snake expected. It hadn’t been in any great hurry to begin with but now slowed gradually and eventually stopped, raising its head for a better look.

At me.

I watched the snake as it, without moving, watched me.

I had always averred that I wouldn’t be frightened of any snake if I saw it first. It’s just the surprises that are so awful. Only now it and I seemed to have met an impasse.

Assuming neither of us has a buddy nearby, each knew exactly where the other was and what was going on. Which actually wasn’t much of anything.

After a while the standoff began to annoy me.

I walked toward it. Yes I did: toward.

One step. Two.

It didn’t move. Three. Four. Five.

No hissing. No tongue business. Just watching. I stomped my foot figuring that would certainly show it who was boss.

Hardly. It lay there, head up, unmoving yet.

Hmmm. I wasn’t planning on going any closer but was rapidly tiring of its game.

Turning, I backtracked into the house. The retriever remained watching from the height of the deck.

Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to