This past spring on a cool, clear day, my daughter Rosie and I picked up Master Naturalist Donna Lewis and Danielle Ramos in Milano at dawn. We traveled to Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site for an enjoyable edible plant walk. Master Naturalist Patrick Still and his wife also attended.
Along the way we saw chickens, longhorns, and wildflowers. We then toured the “Birthplace of Texas” where in 1836 Texas declared independence from Mexico to become the Republic of Texas.
After lunch and Jet Fuel coffee to keep us going, we headed to the Antique Rose Emporium in Independence. Donna kept us laughing with her tales. Once she was visiting a nearby farm and a “nice” miniature horse bit her. The children on the tour got scared and ran away!
The Emporium was stunning, and we found our favorite blooming sweet peas. We also found artisan beer, wine and snacks at the new bistro there. While relaxing on a porch surrounded by flowers and wind chimes, we noticed a long black crack on a building which turned out to be a snake! We said nothing so as not to “scare the children”.
As we left, we saw a bride having her picture taken among the roses. We were too tired to stop for dinner, so Donna got home by dark—–a perfect spring day in Texas.
While we aren’t having meetings for a while, we are able to have our own adventures out in nature, or if we’re lucky, nature comes into our homes.
Chapter member Pamela Neeley is well known for having a home that’s welcoming to creatures of nature. People who have been to our meetings may recall that she recently had a skunk that liked to come in and check out her cat food.
It would come in through the pet door and make itself at home. It never sprayed or anything, but was quite clever.
When Pamela tried to block the door, the patient skunk slowly but surely worked out how to remove the barriers, so he or she could search for snacks. Cat food is really delicious, apparently.
I guess the skunk got along well enough with Ruby the dog, though Ruby did alert Pamela to the skunk’s presence.
Skunks CAN make good pets, but that’s not something we Master Naturalists would suggest as an option. Besides, this is a wild one, and fully operational.
About that Snake
Pamela also has cats. They go in and out that same door the skunk used. Sometimes cats bring presents, as cats are known to do. Earlier in the week, the present Apollo brought was long, thin, and not dead.
The snake was first spotted heading into what Pamela calls the “scary room filled with boxes,” from where she had no chance or removing it. Since she’s so used to critters, she went about her business, until yesterday, when she noticed Apollo the cat was stalking the bathroom. Aha!
The snake was taking refuge in a nice, damp place. That can scare the pee out of you!
After taking a bunch of pictures, Pamela contacted her team of friends on a group text for suggestions. And she got dressed. That’s important.
Ideas came quickly from her amazed friends. One idea was flushing, which was immediately rejected. That’s not being kind to our reptile friends!
Other ideas were use a mop, use one of those pick-up sticks that help the elderly, kitchen tongs, a net, and so forth.
Pamela chose the large towel method. She was ready to fling it into the bathtub if it got too wiggly, but it turned out the snake just curled up and she could easily get it in the towel. It was probably relieved.
Pamela took it to the woods a good ways from the house, and everyone was relieved.
What Was It?
Naturally, everyone in the Cameron ladies’ text group wanted to know what kind of snake it was, especially those of us who are Texas Master Naturalists. Pamela knew what to do, and uploaded it to iNaturalist, suggesting it might be a brown snake, judging from the markings she noted.
Soon she got feedback that the snake was a coach-whip snake. Now she’s glad it didn’t do its characteristic whipping action on her. Since the snake may have been in her house as long as a week, she also hopes it ate some scorpions or other annoying creatures while it was a guest in her home.
Share Your Stories!
Now that we are mostly sitting around looking at the nature around our homes, please share what’s going on with you! Maybe it will make up for all the meetings and classes that have been canceled. I already have one to share tomorrow, so stay tuned.