Monday, May 25, 2009

a snake in the fans

The heat was tropical.

Penetratesing dampness that left no body part untouched.

Not a day to take a stroll. The locals were wisely huddled on white Coca-Cola chairs fanning themselves with anything light enough to lift in the heat.

But I had some free time. A chance to get out.

With Jiggs at the house, I need to be around for the mundane (but essential) tasks of opening gates and helping him stand. Now that he is recuperating, I am free to stop worrying.

I decided to amuse myself with a walk around our laguna --a home for all kinds of lizards, insects, birds, and crocodiles. My trusty Canon accompanied me --just in case I had one of those blogger moments.

The local municipality has constructed a very nice walkway along the edge of the laguna. What was once residential back yards is now a brick path that winds through the bamboo, palms, and water hyacinths.

It is a great place to see nature up close. In the past, it would be exactly the place I would take Jiggs for a walk. (Despite this somewhat Rousseauean whimsical sign. I assure you: there is no Photoshop going on here.)

I had spotted a black and yellow bird that I could not identify cavorting on the fronds of a coconut palm. Just as I was focusing on it, I heard one of those primordial sounds that causes every corpuscle to stand still.

A rattle. With its very distinctive warning.

I have lived in the western United States and have been involved in politics long enough to recognize the sound of snakes. And this was a sound I had heard before.

A rattlesnake.

In my neck of the woods, when I have heard that sound, I was always wearing boots and long pants.

Not so on Sunday. Remember my comment about the heat? I was wearing sandals and shorts -- looking like an extra in a Spring Break movie. Perhaps, the evil dean, who is spying on the fun-loving students.

Standing still did not seem to be the best option. But where was the snake?

Nature has given humans very sensitive stereophonic listening abilities. We can pinpoint the source of a sound far better than our dogs.

I refused to believe my ears. The sound was coming from just above my head.

But "just above my head" was nothing but palm fronds.

I am no Marlin Perkins, but I know that rattlesnakes are not arboreal. If a snake comes hurtling out of jungles trees in a Tarzan movie, it is a python or a boa constrictor -- not some puny rattlesnake.

This is how my mind works at times like this. Inside my head a Sunday morning political discussion was taking place. Perhaps, a session of Meet the Pest.

Logic won out over fear. I started peering around the fronds to see what was making the warning rattle.

It was the coconut palm. Or, rather, it was the breeze blowing through one of the fronds. It was setting up a harmonic tremor that sounded just like a rattlesnake's rattle. Nature mimicking -- nature, I guess.

A good walk?

Of course, it was. Just like a combat mission, any walk that ends "And then I was home" is a good walk.


Islagringo said...

"Meet the Pest" = big eye roll! Clever, as usual. Was it Teddy Roosevelt who said "Walk softly but carry a big stick"? Good advice on these nature walks.

Rosas Clan in Tulum said...

That is a terrifing sound. Iam glad that it was the palm just playing a trick on you.

I al glad to hear that Jiggs is on the up swing.

Anonymous said...

i didn't think there were rattlesnakes in that area, (although i know little about the area so perhaps there are) so i really wondered what it was. i'm glad it turned out to be the wind rustling on the palm fronds. reminds me of a time i was backpacking and thought i heard a bear one night. i quickly went back to my tent. imagine my embarrassment when i described the sound to our leader the next morning and she said it was a grouse. some birds make the strangest noises.

it was great to see such a lighthearted post. i'm glad you've been able to enjoy yourself and i sure am happy to hear that the prof. has improved. God willing, as i said in my e-mail, with the right meds. and the haircut, he will start to quickly improve. hang in there!

again, Happy Memorial Day!


maria luz said...

That is one heck of a graphic sign!!!

Cuidate Senor Algodon!

By the way, I hate snakes and living in Texas most of my life I have had too many encounters with them to ever like them. In Queensland I was sneaking peeks up into the trees every where we went.

Crocs - well, we won't even go there!

See. White Light works! Jiggs is better and so are you!


Tancho said...

I sincerely hope you are not prone to sleepwalking.....

Frankly Ronda said...

Love the sign!

Anonymous said...

I lived each second with you. My nerves reacted to the “rattler”. Then logic set in, a sigh of relief. Your report was great. It makes me think of your dad. He always told me I was too logical.


Calypso said...

Lots of rattlers in Colorado - the deadliest rattle snake is a dead one.

Chalk that up to one of many reasons to be here in rattlesnake free tropics ;-)

Steve Cotton said...

Islagringo -- Strange, I thought of you as I was doing my nature walk. Water and things that can eat you. Your favorite combination. "Meet the Pest" was just for you.

Rosas Clan min Tulum -- One of these days I will eventually run into a snake on the laguna. But not that day.

Teresa -- I am looking forward to picking upo Jiggs tomorrow. Yes. There are rattlesnakes in the area. I encountered a very large bone resting outside my door in La Manzanilla almost two years ago.

Maria Luz -- The white light undoubtedly helped Jiggs. As for snakes and crocs, they fascinate me. But I know enough to stay out of their way. Apparently, there have been some recent croc attacks on dogs in the area. Thus, the odd sign.

Folks, my Mom. And no son can ever turn down a compliment from his mother.

Steve Cotton said...

Calypso -- That would imply that rattlesnakes are somehow bad. They do a great job of holding the rodent population in check. And they are usually very timid of humans.

Steve Cotton said...

Constantino -- If I am prone to sleepwalking around the laguna, I am certain something will wake me up.

AMM -- I agree. The sign is a hoot! And oddly controversial down here.