The snake in the tree

I was eager to take my walk today around 3pm. It’s cloudy today and cool. Will be even cooler tomorrow and we might be inside most of the day. We plan to clean sawdust and other construction debris out of the camp.

As usual, I chose a podcast to listen to on my walk. From Margery‘s blog post Living into the Mystery, I knew I wanted to listen to Martin Shaw in Emergence Magazine‘s stream. I wasn’t able to finish reading Marjorie’s latest post, but I will return to it. Martin Shaw was amazing. I couldn’t absorb everything he said, it was so insightful. I will have to listen again. So I was in a state of — myth, I guess, if I can use that to describe a state of mind.

I saw ahead of me an unusual blob, something in the road, vaguely human in height, but much wider. As I got closer, I realized it was an adult with several children huddling near. It is rare to see children on my walks around here. I noticed they were examining a tree closely. I became very curious about what they could possibly be looking at with such intensity. Of course, I had to stop and converse. The father said “There’s a snake in the tree.” They pointed it out to me. A garter snake in the tree. They elaborated – they had put it there. They said it seemed happy there, just resting on the branch where they had laid it. I didn’t know what to say. I was in a mythic frame of mind, like I said, so really anything was possible. A snake might be happy to be put into a tree, what did I know. I tried to imagine the snake’s future, either wriggling down the branches and trunk or just flopping off and falling to the grass. Neither one seemed too bad or damaging to the snake.

Meanwhile, the topic of conversation had shifted. The oldest child, a girl named Sabrina, noticed my beaded frog amulet. I have it hanging from my fanny pack where I carry my phone when I have no pockets. She touched it. The father admonished her, “Sabrina, don’t touch people’s things.” I really didn’t mind. This was the second time this frog had been noticed by a child. Last summer, a little girl came by while I was sitting on the beach conversing with my friend Jane, and she also became fascinated by the frog.

The snake in the tree was forgotten, and the two younger boys also became interested in the frog. I picked it up and turned it around. The youngest boy wanted badly to touch it, so I said he could. He ran one finger over the beads, examining the eyes and the fingers. I explained it was from Mexico and someone very skilled had made this beaded frog with a needle. The father quizzed the kids on the name for snakes and frogs: amphibians. (A snake is not an amphibian, but I didn’t register this until now.)

This seems like a small encounter, but it really loomed large in my mind. It was so unusual to see children out learning about the world with their father. And it would never have occurred to me to put a snake in a tree.

PS. There were little green apples on the tree. I had walked on quite awhile before I remembered the story of the garden of Eden. It didn’t really seem to fit this situation though.

4 Responses

  1. Marti says:

    I almost did not read this post because I have a phobia about snakes and thought, oh jeez!, there might be a photo Over the years, I have tried to face this, as best as I can. My mother was bitten by a snake when she was tending sheep as a little girl in Spain so she passed along her fear…but anyway, I decided to take a chance and read your post and I’m so glad that I did. It is wonderful to see a Dad and his children out in nature, although you have to wonder if the snake liked being up in the tree…see, I’m making progress, can feel something besides fear of snakes! AND your jeweled frog is such a treasure.

    • Catherine says:

      My sister has the same phobia. And my grandmother did too. We had an old encyclopedia, with all the snake pictures carefully covered with paper by my grandfather in case she opened it to that page by accident. I didn’t photograph the snake, I could barely see it and I didn’t want to scare it and cause commotion. Funny how the story switched to the jeweled frog.

  2. i don’t know how to describe the sense of this story……these words….it’s like there is what you have written but then
    another uhhhh, simultaneous story, hovering….getting a little more visible each time i read

    • Catherine says:

      I’ve been thinking – oh this story is so slight, nothing much happened, why did I bother. But the desire to post it was very strong. I need the new eyes Jude talks about to make it more visible!

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