Monday, May 16, 2016

There Is A Serpent In My Garden

There Is A Serpent In My Garden
            I live in a garden in paradise. I have met the Snake. He is big. He is bad. He is beautiful. And if I eat of the apple from this Snake, I shall surely die.  And that is where the similarities to the Other Garden Story end.

            My garden is lush with bougainvillea, night-blooming jasmine, hundreds of lilies, a coffee bush, palms, grapefruit, lime, oranges, mango, avocado, ferns, geraniums, ivies, philodendron, and a hundred plants I cannot name.

            My wee brick casita sits smack in the middle of my garden. The perimeter walls are taken up with large arched windows, defined by decorative wrought iron. Whether inside or outside, I am in the garden.  

A brick wall surrounds my garden. The entrance gate is not guarded by angels with flaming swords and I don’t need to go to the fig tree for materials to make my clothing. I am the only human in my garden which I share with two (Could be two-hundred; they all look alike.) rabbits, a family of squirrels, numerous iguanas, uncountable varieties of lizards. And the neighbor’s cats. Nothing comes two by two. But that’s a different story.

And the Snake.

Along toward evening I strolled around my patio, checking newly-potted plants, puffed with contentment and satisfaction and, yes, pride, at the order and beauty I was creating out of the jumble-jungle untamed mess I began working with two months ago. I turned the corner to admire my new steps to my terraced back yard and almost stepped on Him.

Him. (I name all creatures, critters and inanimate objects in my garden; thus I named this snake “Him”.) Large red bands alternating with smaller yellow and black bands, mostly black head. Coral snake.

Fear. Boy, Howdy. Let me tell you, I could have flown under my own power, my body was so full of adrenalin. All I could think was “I’ve got to kill it.” When I returned with my big shovel, Him was still sprawled out, the picture of relaxation. 

I stood a moment wondering where Him was most vulnerable. Him finally noticed me and began to curl and slink. I plunged the shovel blade mid-section and nailed Him to the ground, trying my best to cut Him in half.

Him is tough. I wiggled the shovel and Him squirmed out from under my blade and slid beneath the brick planter wall. Him probably escaped with no more than a bruise.

I thought I’d better alert my neighbors. A bite from a coral snake will paralyze one’s breathing apparatus. They don’t bite humans often (small consolation) but they are killers.

Ariel said, “That’s probably the only coral snake you’ll ever see. She is shy.”


Josue said, “I’m scared of snakes. Be careful. Wear shoes in the garden. She probably ran away and hid.”


Leo said, “I’m scared of snakes. Very dangerous. You are brave lady to try to kill her.”


Without consulting one another, far as I know, they named me “The Snake Lady.”

This morning I bought a pair of rubber garden boots, ugly and thick, probably made from recycled tires, tough. I’m not leaving the house without my trusty boots.

Did you know snakes are protected under Mexican law? The coral snake has few natural predators. Roosters. Not for me, thank you. Large dogs. Well, no, I don’t want a dog. Iguanas.

 Iguanas love cilantro. I’m ripping out my entire geranium bed and planting cilantro. Cilantro spreads like a vicious weed. I’ll have a whole herd of iguanas, happily munching cilantro treats, keeping the coral snakes, especially Him, out of my garden.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

May 12, 2016

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