CXXVII. Snake in the Grass

June 8, 2014 — I didn’t see the snake until I tripped over it. It was a long, silver-gray snake lying in the grass in the back of my backyard, under the shade of the trees, where Wallie and I were moseying. I am Wallie-sitting again this weekend for my friend’s Bichon-Poo. Wallie didn’t notice the snake. He was riveted on the scent of rabbit. I suspect so was the snake. We stayed out of the back of the yard for the remainder of the day.

Wallie lookalikes:

images-1 images-2 images


A few days ago, I encountered my neighbors who live behind me inspecting their vast, cyclone-fenced yard. They were afraid to mow their lawn on their rider mower for fear of mowing down baby rabbits. Two mothers had made rabbit holes in their yard and were out monitoring their offspring. The baby bunnies, two to three inches long, were hopping around in the grass.

Two nights later, near midnight, the barred owl hooted, and hooted, loudly and exuberantly, from a tree near the neighbors’ yard. Then the owl actually cackled. It sounded like the Wicked Witch of the West making a flyby. The barred owl call is sometimes defined as sounding like “who-cooks-for-you?” But, why take the time to cook it when you can eat it fresh and raw. A tiny creature squealed and squealed. And, then all went silent. Midnight fare.


The hoot of a barred owl:

This morning Wallie and I ventured to the back of the yard. I wanted to see in broad daylight if the snake was still there. It was. It hadn’t moved. I stepped closer. Still life: a hollow skin, no head, no tail.

Snake resemblance

Snake resemblance

The snake had apparently shed its skin right there in my backyard and slithered away. Wallie sniffed it and said, “Whatever.” No bunnies in the yard, either. Wallie checked around the rabbit hole under my shed. He found nothing enticing. Maybe the rabbits were napping in their warren. They come out mostly at night and eat the clover. I have seen no baby bunnies in my yard, although I don’t go out there to inspect daily. Maybe the babies met unseemly ends. Or maybe they were nestled safely away from the snake.


I was sitting on my front porch one afternoon last week when a car pulled up in front of my house. A black man with a Deep South drawl leaned across his woman companion in the passenger seat and called, “Hey! How y’all doin’?”

“Fine, thanks,” I said.

“Do you mind if I park here?”

“Not at all,” I replied.

He got out and called across the top of the car, “I just wanted to make sure it’s all right if I park in front of your house.”

His woman kept her head down, as if studying something in her lap.

“No problem,” I said. “It’s a public street.”

“I have to stop at your neighbor’s house; so I wanted to ask. I’m from Alabama.”

He seemed like a real nice guy.

It’s been 100 years since World War I, 70 years since World War II and 150 years since the American Civil War. Yet, down home in the Deep South, some have not shed that antebellum skin; still lying like a snake in the grass, ready to pounce on a person of a different skin who needs to park a car in front of a house on a public street. To live in constant trepidation….

—Samantha Mozart

14 Responses to CXXVII. Snake in the Grass

  1. ya, i’ve seen Public Television, and some animals are always The Food. Zebras, antelopes, and those other things that hop through the veldt, look like deer, taste just like chicken. And, in the end, the Bear always gets his salmon. Whoooo took Mr. Little Rabbit? I could give you a very short list. .. I grew up in mortal terror, brought on by my neighbor playmate, Marsha, that an eagle would swoop down and grab me by the shoulders and carry me away. As Yusuf Islam used to sing, back in 1971, “Hoo, Baby It’s a Wild World”. Don’t be food.

    • sammozart says:

      At least the eagle did not swoop down and carry you away, Gary. I lived in fear that Philip was going to put another worm down my back, as he did when we were 5.

      Poor baby bunny. I guess that’s why rabbits are said to multiply like, well, cats, actually.

      It IS a wild world (I have that album, btw) — and it’s not so easy avoiding being food.

      Thanks for commenting. I do appreciate it.

  2. Apropos snakes and their habits of significance ( and in celebration of Susan Scott’s introduction), and your love for stories you might be interested in this short one, and log ago blog I once wrote to kick start a collection. You can find it here

    • sammozart says:

      Thanks, Philippa. I appreciate your coming by and commenting. And I am honored that Susan Scott has thought to pass the Cascade Blog baton on to me.

      Thanks for the link to your collection kickoff story. I will go read that in a few days. Presently, I am working on a special Father’s Day blog post — so, after that.

      I do hope you will visit again.

  3. patgarcia says:

    My Dear Friend,

    I take my hat off to you in reverence to your sensitivity and willingness to speak out on such matters. Yes, I testify that such things still happen in the Deep South. There are still some unwritten petty rules that have not been changed, and one of them is parking. No, black man or black woman would think of parking before a white person’s house without asking. If they did, either his or her car would be towed away when he or she returned. It is hard to change the mindset of some people.

    But since living in Europe and also having travelled extensively in the United States, Canada and all of Europe, I have come to the conclusion that the problem is not a color problem. It has nothing to do with race but with superiority and the egoistic belief that another person is better than someone else, and you see this throughout the whole world.

    By the way, I love your report about the snake. I am not a snake fan either. I would have grabbed Wallie and we would have stayed in the house until someone removed the snake. You were very courageous.


    • sammozart says:

      I found it poignant, Patricia, that the man thought he should ask before parking in front of my house. I was so touched by that incident that I felt I had to speak out on it. I had not given thought in recent years about who can or cannot park in front of whose house. I kind of thought it had gone away — Brad Pitt in New Orleans and all that. But, I should know better just from my own experiences as a Yankee in the Deep South, an uncomfortable feeling. But, yes, you are right. Another aspect of worldwide discrimination, I think, is fear of the unknown other — instead of approaching in love, the other is approached in fear. Moreover, whenever I find myself thinking I am superior I commit some terrifically bumbling act that puts me right back in place.

      Ugh — snakes. I never encountered a snake until I moved to Florida in 1994, and there I saw plenty. I keep my distance, as I know they can leap and climb. I don’t know how courageous I was in this instance. Wallie and I made a wide circle around it and stayed out of the backyard until the next day, when I dared to gaze upon it from a distance. It was shorter, and as it turned out, all that was left was an empty skin, so apparently it did shed its skin and slither on. It’s the first I’ve seen in my yard, but I know they’re around.

      As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts, Pat. It means a lot to me.

  4. Lola says:

    Serene posting except for the shrill squawk of the owl – methinks a baby rabbit was taken suddenly. I have always hated nature films where some poor unsuspecting prey becomes dinner for another. If I had to find my own food you can bet I’d be vegetarian.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • sammozart says:

      Thanks for commenting, Lola. I actually find the call of the barred owl fascinating; I suppose I find them comforting because I’ve heard them all my life, except when I lived in Southern California and Florida. I, too, do watch nature films or any TV news story where animals become prey. I turn it off. I do eat chicken and fish, but as long as it doesn’t look like what it was — I suppose that’s like sticking my head in the sand. I eat mostly vegetarian meals, though.

      I hope you stop by again.

  5. Val Rainey says:

    Hey Sam, yes it truly is sad that in the 21st century anyone need live in trepidation of anything.
    I’m hoping that the current generation and their children will finally have the knowledge and courage to really live free. free of fear in all of its ugly forms.

    • sammozart says:

      We can hope, Val. Yet it is in human nature that some be other than kind. My observations seeing the younger generations less xenophobic are encouraging, though.

      Thanks. You Canadians seem to have a pretty accurate overview of us Americans. 🙂

  6. Susan Scott says:

    Ooooo, Wallie is a handsome pooch indeed!
    Dogs, owls, snakes, baby rabbits … all have a sense of trepidation about them, (although Wallie more a sense of anticipation) as well as the man from Alabama.
    I must confess initially I thought that ‘barred owl’ must be a mistake and you meant ‘barn owl’ but I checked and indeed a screeching scary sound!
    May the man from Alabama know that skin colour is just that – and that our blood is red irrespective of skin colour. May he encounter more humans such as you …
    Thank you Samantha … another enjoyable post! Some creatures furry, some feathery, some scaly –

    • sammozart says:

      Wallie IS handsome, Susan — and anticipatory. The dog in the bottom picture looks most like him, except that Wallie has a tan nose tip. Rabbits have a lot of predators, I’ve realized from watching them around here — dogs, cats, raptors, snakes, lawnmowers….

      I thought the same as you about the barred owl: first I thought it was barn owl, then I thought it was the Shakespearean Bard Owl, poetic, akin to Edgar Allan Poe’s raven, but, no, it’s barred. I find their call at once comforting and unsettling; I love hearing them, though. They call to their mates across great distances. They’re quite loud, especially when one’s in the tree right outside your bedroom window. I was honored by a visit from one one night while sitting on my front porch. It circled in and sat on the utility wire. I wrote a blog piece about it, XLVIII. “The Owl,” January 24, 2012.

      Yes, it is cultures that differentiate us rather blood, skin color.

      Thanks, Susan.

  7. Gwynn Rogers says:

    So what type of snake curled up in your yard? Is it hunting the baby bunnies? Do you have poisonous snakes there? Sadly, there are different snakes across the U.S. you never know what type of snake you will find and whether it will hurt you or not… no matter what color it’s skin is.

    • sammozart says:

      I don’t know what type of snake it was, Gwynn; probably a rat snake. They are harmless. I have seen garter snakes, which look just like my garden hose, and black snakes here. Garter snakes are semi-venomous. I believe I read today where we have rattlers and other poisonous snakes in Delaware.

      Re snakes of various skin colors, I felt sorry for the man from Alabama that still had to live in that fear. I parked in front of a store on the street of a nearby city once and the woman proprietor came running out and told me I couldn’t park there if I wasn’t going to shop there. I never did shop there.

      Thanks for stopping by here, and you can park wherever. No problem.