‘There’s a snake in the garden…..’
I remember yelling that a few years ago. We lived in a house with a smallish garden, beautifully laid out, with a curvy lawn that was Joe’s pride and joy … he designed it.
There were two sections divided by a crazy-paved path. On the left was the lawn, various rose shrubs and low trees. At the end of that was a small wall, on the other side of which was a paved area where we could sit and catch the sun.
On the right hand side Joe created a zig-zag brick path which ran in, out and round the shrubs. At the front was a small pond which was home for a couple of koi and breeding area for frogs. Our cat loved to fish for tadpoles and on one occasion a group of visiting nephews played toss the frog, a game which came about by accident when a frog jumped onto a table tennis bat. The frog didn’t suffer and since he didn’t shift I reckon he enjoyed it.
At the end of that section was a small wooden shed, more like a child’s dolls house in size. We couldn’t go in unless we were bent double so I imagine it was erected by previous occupiers for kids to play in. The garden was fenced off from a right-of-way leading to other people’s back gardens and our little shed almost touched it. There was just enough room for a small wooden ledge….and this was where I found the sunbathing snake.
Now snakes are not common in my part of the UK so it came as a bit of a shock to see it. I remember thinking how colourful it was. Lots of yellow and I seem to remember some red in the snakeskin as well. I wish I had a photograph, but this is the nearest I could get to the picture in my mind.
So there the snake lay, seemingly asleep, and I couldn’t wait to tell someone. As you can imagine when I rushed in shouting ‘there’s a snake in the garden’ I wasn’t believed. Joe just laughed and muttered something like ‘oh, don’t be daft.’ I had to drag him out into the garden for a look-see. Anyway, the news spread and we started having visitors, the kids in the road wanted to come and see it. Honestly, I should have charged entrance fee! My neighbour, who was a school teacher, checked its colouring and looked it up in books at her school. She came back with the idea that it was probably someone’s pet, and probably originated in America.
The viewing went on for about three days before the reptile disappeared never to be seen again. I quite missed the excitement of having a snake in the garden.
Several years later I had another encounter with a snake when a speaker at one of the WI meetings brought some to show us. There were lots of oohs and aahs and even some shudders when the ladies saw what he’d brought. Silly lot, I mean they weren't even close. The display was on the stage several feet away from the audience. One lady even called out ‘don’t drop it’ when the guy pulled the first one out of the snake box. He reassured her that he was in complete control.
We were given the history of snakes and their various habitats and I have to admit it was all very interesting … certainly different to our usual kind of speaker.
At the end the guy asked if we’d like a closer look. Some did, some didn’t, but he circulated anyway, carrying one of the larger snakes. You could tell which ladies were interested by the way they flocked round, unlike those who hugged the walls in fear. I was one of the lucky ones who got to handle the rather large reptile. Of course, I forget what sort of snake it was but I have never forgotten how it felt. Not a bit slimy, as expected, but smooth as velvet and really quite nice to the touch.